Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic, episodic abdominal pain associated with discomfort and altered bowel movements without any structural or biochemical abnormality. This study aims to 1) assess the prevalence of IBS among medical students and 2) perform descriptive and correlational analyses between IBS prevalence and different social and demographic parameters.
Methodology: This cross-sectional study was conducted between October 2019 and January 2020 at the Faculty of Medicine, Imam Mohammad Ibn Saud Islamic University (IMSIU), Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. A self-administered questionnaire was distributed to 480 students of all academic years and both genders.
Results: A total of 472 participants (response rate: 98.33%) completed the survey, of whom 179 (60.9%) men and 115 (39.1%) women were finally included. Overall, 37 (12.6%) students reported responses consistent with a diagnosis of IBS: IBS-M subtype in 18 (48.6%), IBS-D in 8 (21.7%), IBS-C in 8 (21.7%), and IBS-U in 3 (8%). Most of the participants were single (292 [99.3%]) and living with their families [267(93.8%)]. Most of the participants [245 (83.3%)] denied ever smoking, whereas 49 (16.7%) admitted to smoking. There was a statistical significance between the prevalence of IBS and smoking (odds ratio 3.351, p = 0.032) significant, there was a higher prevalence of IBS in women (p = 0.849) and third- and fifth-year students (p = 0.089).
Conclusion: The prevalence rate of IBS among medical students in IMSIU was found to be 12.6%. A screening for IBS is recommended. We propose commencing a smoking rehabilitation program to help students abstain from this habit and to decrease the risk of IBS development in the future.
Prevalence, irritable bowel syndrome, medical students, abdominal pain, risk, Saudi Arabia
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