Increased risk of irritable bowel syndrome in university students due to gastrointestinal symptom-specific anxiety

Tatsuo Saigo, Jun Tayama, Sayaka Ogawa, Peter J. Bernick, Atsushi Takeoka, Masaki Hayashida, Susumu Shirabe*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Gastrointestinal symptom-specific anxiety (GSA) has been reported to impact symptom severity in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), suggesting that GSA may be an important treatment outcome. The present study explored whether higher levels of GSA were associated with increased risk of having IBS, and whether individuals with IBS were at greater risk for severe gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms. Methods: Participants comprised 1156 university students. The Rome III modular questionnaire was used to assess for IBS. GSA was measured using the Japanese version of the Visceral Sensitivity Index (VSI). IBS-SI was used to assess severity of GI symptoms. Data were analyzed using univariate and multivariate logistic regression analysis. Results: The prevalence rate of IBS (provisional diagnosis, based on Rome III questionnaire responses) was 21%. Logistic regression analysis was performed using the VSI cutoff point as the independent variable, and the presence or absence of IBS as the dependent variable. Results indicate that for individuals above the VSI cutoff point, the adjusted odds ratio for having IBS was 2.64 (95% CI: 1.87-3.71). Furthermore, results indicate that in participants with high GSA, adjusted odds ratios for severity of IBS symptoms were 0.44 (95% CI: 0.33-0.58) for subclinical, 1.15 (95% CI: 0.90–1.46) for mild symptoms, 2.19 (95% CI: 1.57–3.07) for moderate symptoms, and 5.63 (95% CI: 2.24–14.15) for severe symptoms. Conclusion: Higher VSI scores were associated with having risk factors for IBS and greater severity of IBS symptoms.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)137-143
Number of pages7
JournalActa Medica Nagasakiensia
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Mar
Externally publishedYes


  • Gastrointestinal symptom-specific anxiety
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Visceral sensitivity index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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