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Gastroesophageal Reflux Symptoms in a Danish Population

A Prospective Follow-Up Analysis of Symptoms, Quality of Life, and Health-Care Use

Hansen, Jane Møller, MD, PhD1; Wildner-Christensen, Mette, MD, PhD1; Schaffalitzky de Muckadell, Ove B., MD, DMed Sci1

American Journal of Gastroenterology: October 2009 - Volume 104 - Issue 10 - p 2394–2403

OBJECTIVES: The prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux symptoms (GERS) in the population is high; however, data on long-term follow-up and incidence of GERS in the population are sparse. This study describes the long-term natural history of GERS, the related health-care use, and quality of life in a population followed up for 5 years.

METHODS: A total of 10,000 randomly selected inhabitants, 40-65 years old, received, as a part of a controlled trial ofHelicobacter pyloriscreening and treatment (control group), a mailed questionnaire regarding demographic data, gastrointestinal symptoms (the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale (GSRS)), and quality of life (the Short-Form 36-Item Health Survey (SF-36)) at inclusion and after 5 years. GERS was defined as a mean score ≥2 in the reflux dimension in the GSRS. Information on use of health-care resources was drawn from the questionnaires and registers.

RESULTS: In all, 6,781 individuals answered the first questionnaire and 5-year symptom data were complete for 5,578 (82.3%) of them. The mean age at inclusion was 52.4 years, 48% were men. At inclusion, 22% reported GERS. During follow-up, symptoms resolved in 43%, of whom 10% received acid inhibitory treatment at 5-year follow-up. The incidence of GERS was 2.2% per year. Health-care use during follow-up was significantly higher in individuals with GERS at baseline than in individuals without GERS. Quality of life at 5-year follow-up was lower in individuals with GERS at inclusion than in individuals without GERS at inclusion.

CONCLUSIONS: GERS are prevalent, long lasting, and associated with an impaired quality of life and substantial health-care use.

Am J Gastroenterol 2009; 104:2394-2403; doi:10.1038/ajg.2009.391; published online 21 July 2009

1Department of Medical Gastroenterology S, Odense University Hospital, Odense, Denmark. Correspondence: Jane Møller Hansen, MD, PhD, Department Medical gastroenterology S, Odense University Hospital, Odense C 5000, Denmark. E-mail:

Received 6 March 2009; accepted 5 June 2009

© The American College of Gastroenterology 2009. All Rights Reserved.
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