Abstract Objective. Few large-scale studies have examined the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and the number of visits among IBS patients in a primary health care setting. The aim of this study was to assess the prevalence of IBS in primary health care in four Swedish counties. Another aim was to study the number of visits among the IBS patients. Design. A register-based study. Setting. A primary health care database with information on patients from 71 primary health care centres in the Swedish counties of Stockholm, Uppsala, Värmland, and Gotland. Subjects. The primary health care database contains individual-level data for 919 954 patients for the period 2001-2007. Main outcome measures. Prevalence of IBS diagnosis. Results. 10 987 patients had a diagnosis of IBS, which corresponds to a prevalence of 1.2%. IBS was most common in the 25-44 years age group (37% of IBS patients); 71% of IBS patients were female, and 81% of IBS patients visited their GP six or more times, compared with 46% of non-IBS patients. However, 95% of the IBS patients visited their GP three times or fewer for IBS. Conclusion and implications. The prevalence of IBS was low among Swedish primary health care patients. This might suggest that IBS patients are insufficiently diagnosed in Swedish primary health care.
- Hälso- och sjukvårdsorganisation, hälsopolitik och hälsoekonomi