Background: Albeit not life threatening, symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) interfere with routine activities and compromise the quality of life (QOL). With the exception of one survey on the prevalence of IBS among students in Malaysia a decade back, there are no other reports. QOL in IBS is yet to be investigated in this region.
Objective: To determine the prevalence of IBS and its impact on QOL among students at a Malaysian medical university.
Methodology: A cross-sectional, questionnaire based, self- reported study was conducted among 1104 students. The IBS-QOL questionnaire based on Rome III criteria, and a demographic questionnaire were used.
Results: The overall prevalence of IBS was found to be 45.3%, with a female preponderance of 49.8%. It was also found to be predominant among Chinese 55% and physiotherapy students 61.7%. IBS Mixed type (IBS-M) was found to be common among all students (78.6%). The mean score for QOL for all IBS symptom positive students was 74.2±22.3.
Conclusion: The overall prevalence of IBS has escalated, particularly in Chinese, females and physiotherapy students with IBS-M type being the commonest. Chinese, IBS-D type and those with low-grade symptom severity enjoy a better QOL than others. Considering the imprint left by IBS on the QOL, educational institutions have to introduce curriculum reforms and encourage physical activity among students.
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