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Global Epidemiology Study

The disorders of brain-gut interaction (DGBIs), previously known as functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs), including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), are commonly seen in primary care, internal medicine, and gastroenterology. Although they have a substantial impact on patient wellbeing and health care resources, existing data on FGID epidemiology are unreliable because of heterogeneous methodology.

The Rome Foundation provides consensus and evidence-based definitions, diagnostic criteria and knowledge about the FGIDs, with the latest iteration, Rome IV, published in 2016. With the aim of further elucidating the epidemiology of these disorders, we undertook a rigorous study to evaluate the global prevalence and burden of FGIDs. In addition to Rome IV diagnostic criteria, the study’s comprehensive questionnaire included demographic and co-morbidity factors, health behaviors, living conditions and other sociopsychological factors to determine the epidemiology and related aspects of 22 FGIDs in over 73,000 adults from 33 countries spanning a broad range of economic development and cultural-linguistic settings.

The study included 11 European, 4 Latin American, 3 African, 8 Asian, and 4 Middle East countries, and the US, Canada, and Australia. In each country we recruited at least 2,000 respondents, with an equal gender distribution and a pre-planned age distribution, closely reflecting national populations.

The results of the study provide high quality evidence of the global prevalence, impact and overlap of FGIDs and should be a leading data source and reference for future studies and will be reported in the medical literature in the near future.

The figure shows the global distribution of the countries that participated in this study.

global distribution of the countries

Study Director, Ami D. Sperber, MD, MSPH, discusses how the data from this study will impact the science of epidemiology

Ami D. Sperber, MD, MSPH

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