IBS in America Survey Findings

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If you have IBS, you will surely see your own experience outlined in the results of a comprehensive survey of what life is like with IBS. Let's take a look.

What Is the "IBS in America" Survey?

The "IBS in America" survey was conducted to gain information as to what it is like to truly live with IBS. It was undertaken by the American Gastroenterological Association and financed by Ironwood Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

and Allergan plc, two manufacturers of IBS medications (Linzess and Viberzi respectively).

The survey was an online survey, which took place over a six-week period in the fall of 2015. Survey responders consisted of:

  • 3254 people who identified themselves as having IBS, although not all had a doctor's diagnosis
  • 151 gastroenterologists
  • 151 primary care physicians

Notable Findings

I have highlighted some of the findings that seemed to me to be surprising

  • 67% of survey responders said they waited a year before telling their doctor! This illustrates that the continued stigma around bowel symptoms interferes with people getting timely, accurate diagnosis and treatment. Don't be like these people, speak up!
  • On average, IBS leads to people missing school or work two times a month but impacts their ability to be productive in those arenas on an average of nine days out of the month. These are some pretty big numbers! You can see that the things that used to be routinely said to people with IBS, that "It's all in your head" or "Just live with it and feel lucky that it isn't cancer" were so far off the mark.
  • Approximately 1/3 of the IBS responders make an excuse when they can't show up for something, although a majority will attribute the problem to a GI issue. The second part of this finding actually pleased me - I encourage people to speak openly about stomach issues or intestinal difficulties. It is time for stomach/colon issues to be discussed as matter-of-factly as those of other parts of the body.
  • The emotional toll: Not surprisingly 75% of respondents used the word "frustrated" to describe their IBS. Almost 50% chose the word, "self-conscious." We can certainly understand the frustration, but the self-consciousness is sad. I would doubt that most people who have asthma, diabetes or even celiac disease, would not be self-conscious about it. I would love to see that 50% number reduced drastically as people realize that IBS does not have to define them.
  • Only about a quarter of IBS responders stated that they find that other people don't understand their symptoms. The fact that most of the responders reported that other people are supportive surprised and pleased me.
  • Only about 25% of those with IBS-C and similar numbers of those with IBS-D were very satisfied with the treatments available for their conditions. Clearly, more work needs to be done!

Interested in reading more? You can download the entire report from IBS in America.


"IBS in America Survey Findings" December 2015.

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