Published online Mar 28, 2015. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i12.3628
Peer-review started: October 10, 2014
First decision: October 29, 2014
Revised: December 9, 2014
Accepted: January 8, 2015
Article in press: January 8, 2015
Published online: March 28, 2015
AIM: To describe the bowel habits and the prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and to investigate the influence of health behavior and social factors on IBS prevalence in university students.
METHODS: This cross-sectional study was conducted at five major universities in Greater Beirut and its suburbs, between February and June 2014. Using a convenience sample, a total of 813 students aged 18 years old and above participated in this study. Participants were asked to complete a comprehensive anonymous questionnaire which detailed characteristics on socio-demographic, health-related, and lifestyle factors, as well as IBS. The ROME III criteria were used as a tool to ascertain IBS. A χ2 test was used to determine differences between categorical variables; stepwise logistic regression was used to measure the association between IBS and its risk factors.
RESULTS: An overall prevalence of IBS of 20% was recorded among university students. The bivariate analysis showed that females were significantly more likely to report having IBS than males (29.1% vs 18.2%, P < 0.01). Those living at the school dormitory or in a private residence (39.5%) were more likely to have IBS than those living with their families (16.3%) (P < 0.01). The multivariate analysis showed that those who had a relatively high family income level (US$ > 2000) were almost 6 times more likely to report having IBS than their counterparts.
CONCLUSION: This is the first study to describe the nature of IBS among young adults in Lebanon. The prevalence of IBS among university students in our sample was higher than that reported in the West.
Core tip: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is an acknowledged functional gastrointestinal disorder of major public health concern. Little is known about IBS prevalence in Arab countries and specifically among university students, including Lebanon. Therefore, an epidemiological study, the first of its kind, investigating IBS among university students in Lebanon was conducted. The prevalence of IBS reported in this study was relatively high and similar to the estimate found in industrialized countries. The risk of having IBS, after adjusting for confounders was significantly higher among females than males, those aged 22 years or younger, among those who were living in a private house or in the school dormitory on their own, and among subjects with middle to high income levels. Findings of this study have important implications for IBS screening and management, as they highlight the importance of engaging in healthy behaviors to minimize IBS symptoms and enhance quality of life among IBS patients.