Objectives: To investigate differences in the health-related quality of life (HRQoL), number of stressful life events, affective status, and some personality characteristics between patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) as well as their possible role in disease activity.
Methods: Fifty-six IBS outpatients, age range 25–75 years (mean = 48.64; SD = 13.04) and 43 outpatients with IBD, age range 19–74 years (mean = 42.90; SD = 15.44), participated in this study. Patients filled out the following questionnaires: Short-Form 36 Health Survey, Beck Depression Inventory, Spielberger's Trait-Anxiety Inventory, Big Five Inventory, and Stressful Life Events Questionnaire.
Results: There were significant differences in the physical component (F = 10.80, P<0.001) of the general HRQoL as well as in anxiety (F = 7.23, P<0.01) and neuroticism (F = 8.90, P<0.01) between patients with IBS and IBD. IBS patients showed a significantly higher level of anxiety and neuroticism and better physical aspects of general HRQoL compared with IBD patients. The results of standard regression analyses indicated that a significant predictor (β = −0.44, P<0.01) for the perceived disease activity in IBS was neuroticism as a personality trait.
Conclusion: The results of this study show that the patients with IBS are more prone to the effect of psychosocial variables on gastrointestinal symptoms compared with patients with organic gastrointestinal diseases such as IBD. IBS patients experienced a higher level of anxiety and expressed a higher level of neuroticism as a personality trait compared with IBD patients.