IBS Survey Shows High Levels of Uncertainty on Symptoms, Treatment

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The majority of patients felt it was important for healthcare providers talk to them about the symptoms, possible treatments. In addition, most patients are not prescribed a medication right away.

A new patient survey produced by Salix Pharmaceuticals shows 54% of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) wait more than 1 year prior to discussing their IBS symptoms with their healthcare providers.

The report, Patient Perspectives: Impacts of Living with IBS, was done in a partnership Fairleigh Dickinson University in January 2023 with 724 respondents with self-reported IBS with constipation, chronic idiopathic constipation or IBS with diarrhea.

The respondents were drawn from multiple panels of US residents.

The results show 43% of those surveyed were unaware IBS was a chronic condition, 43% assumed their symptoms could be resolved by modifying their diets, while 39% thought over-the-counter medication could help resolve their symptoms.

In addition, 32% felt awkward talking about their symptoms with their personal doctor.

The results also show a general lack of knowledge on the options for treating IBS.

For example, 23% of responders said they were unaware prescription treatment options were available for patients with IBS.

There also was a discrepancy between those who did and did not get treated for the disease.

In fact, only 30% of respondents with IBS reported they were initially offered a prescription and more than 25% said it took more than 3 years to be prescribed a medication or hadn’t yet prescribed a treatment at all at the time of the survey.

On the other hand, 90% of patients with IBS-diarrhea reported they would consider a limited course medication that treats the symptoms.

The other key takeaway is 86% patients reported they wanted their healthcare practitioner to proactively ask whether all of the symptoms have been relieved in follow-up appointments.

There were some issues with treatment seen in the answers.

For example, 75% of adult patients said the prescriptions none or only some of their symptoms, while 55% said they were getting some relief, 34% said they were afraid to switch to a new medication, and 28% said they didn’t want to risk progress they made in controlling some symptoms to switch to a new medication.

The results also show 9 of 10 adults reported their healthcare providers taking their time to talk about the symptoms was either important or very important.

Patients were also asked to describe the symptoms they were experiencing and more than 30% said bloating (43%), constipation (41%), discomfort (36%), and stomach pain (35%) were not being treated by over the counter medication.

In addition, 3 of 10 said stomach pain was the main reason to see a doctor.

"The findings from this year's survey demonstrate the need for continued awareness and education about the multiple symptoms associated with IBS and CIC, which are chronic conditions that have prescription treatment options available. It also underscores the need for a more proactive HCP-patient dialogue around IBS symptoms," said Nicola Kayel, Vice President, GI Marketing, said in a statement.