Stress Boosts Irritable Bowel Risk After Gastroenteritis

Patients more likely to regard illness negatively and have a 'driven' personality

MONDAY, Feb. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Patients are more likely to develop irritable bowel syndrome after gastroenteritis if they are stressed, anxious, regard illness negatively and have a "driven" personality, according to a prospective study published online Feb. 26 in Gut.

Meagan J. Spence, M.A., of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and Rona Moss-Morris, Ph.D., of the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, surveyed 620 patients with Campylobacter gastroenteritis regarding mood, stress and personality factors. Patients completed follow-up questionnaires up to six months later to determine whether they met the Rome criteria for irritable bowel syndrome.

The researchers found that 49 patients developed irritable bowel syndrome, of which 76 percent were female. At the time of infection, these patients reported higher stress (odds ratio, 1.10), anxiety (OR, 1.14), somatization (OR, 1.17), and negative illness beliefs (OR, 1.14). Irritable bowel syndrome patients were also more likely to exhibit all-or-nothing behavior (remaining active when seriously ill until being forced to rest; OR, 1.09) and were less likely to rest when seriously ill (OR, 0.93).

"Results suggest that patients with high stress and anxiety levels are more prone to develop irritable bowel syndrome after a bout of gastroenteritis," the authors conclude. "Additional risk factors include a tendency to interpret illness in a pessimistic fashion and to respond to symptoms in an all-or-nothing manner."

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