What Patients Know about Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and What They Would Like to Know
Results: 1,242 patients completed the survey (371 via mail and 871 online), mean age was 39.3 ± 12.5 yr, educational attainment 15 ± 2.6 yr, 85% female, IBS duration 6.9 ± 4.2 yr, 79% have seen an MD for IBS in the last 6 months, and 92.6% have used the Web for health information. The most prevalent IBS misconceptions included (% of subjects agreeing with the statement): IBS is caused by lack of digestive enzymes (52%), is a form of colitis (42.8%), will worsen with age (47.9%), and can develop into colitis (43%) or malnutrition (37.7%) or cancer (21.4%). IBS patients were interested in learning about (% of subjects choosing an item): (1) foods to avoid (63.3%), (2) causes of IBS (62%), (3) coping strategies (59.4%), (4) medications (55.2%), (5) will they have to live with IBS for life (51.6%), and (6) research studies (48.6%). Patients using the Web were better informed about IBS.Conclusion: (1) Many patients hold misconceptions about IBS being caused by dietary habits, developing into cancer, colitis, causing malnutrition, or worsening with age; (2) patients most often seek information about dietary changes; and (3) educational needs may be different for persons using the internet for medical information.
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