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Stress and a sedentary lifestyle are associated with irritable bowel syndrome in medical students from Peru

a cross-sectional study

Vasquez-Rios, Georgea; Machicado, Jorge D.b; Ticse, Raya,,c,,d; Ruiz, Eloy F.a; Gamero, Maria T.a; Pezua, Adrianaa; Marcos, Luis A.e; Tagle, Martina,,f

European Journal of Gastroenterology & Hepatology: November 2019 - Volume 31 - Issue 11 - p 1322–1327
doi: 10.1097/MEG.0000000000001479
Original Articles: Gastroenterology
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Background Previous studies suggest that medical students may have higher rates of irritable bowel syndrome as compared to the general population. We hypothesized lifestyle characteristics may be associated to irritable bowel syndrome.

Methods A cross-sectional survey was conducted in 2015 among students in their fourth, fifth, sixth and seven years of a medical school in Peru. Volunteer participants responded to questions pertaining to demographics, surveys including the Rome III criteria and the Self-reported Stress questionnaire. Regression models were performed to establish variables independently associated with irritable bowel syndrome.

Results Out of 452 students, 346 responded the survey (response rate: 76.5%; female rate: 47%; median age: 22 years). The irritable bowel syndrome prevalence in respondents was 9.5% (95% confidence interval: 6.7%–13.1%). On univariate analysis, being a senior medical student (odds ratio: 2.8; 95% confidence interval: 1.3–5.9; P < 0.01), mental illness (odds ratio: 3.3; 95% confidence interval: 1.6–6.8; P = 0.002), psychiatric medication use (odds ratio: 2.8; 95% confidence interval: 1.4–5.9; P = 0.005), sedentary lifestyle (odds ratio: 4.4; 95% confidence interval: 1.8–11; P = 0.001) and stress (odds ratio: 4.4; 95% confidence interval: 2.1–9.3; P < 0.001) were associated to irritable bowel syndrome. On a multivariate analysis, a sedentary lifestyle (odds ratio: 3.2; 95% confidence interval: 1.25–8.20; P = 0.01) and stress (odds ratio: 3.0; 95% confidence interval: 1.35–6.67; P < 0.01) were independently associated with irritable bowel syndrome.

Conclusion The prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome in medical students from Peru is slightly lower compared to the global prevalence of irritable bowel syndrome. Stress and a sedentary lifestyle were independent risk factors associated with irritable bowel syndrome. Our study suggests that lifestyle modifications and stress coping techniques could have an impact to reduce the rates of irritable bowel syndrome in medical students.

aFacultad de Medicina Alberto Hurtado, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru

bDivision of Gastroenterology, Mayo Clinic Health System, Eau Claire, Wisconsin, USA

cUnidad de Educación Médica, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru

dServicio de Endocrinología, Hospital Cayetano Heredia, Lima, Peru

eDivision of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Stony Brook University, and Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York, USA

fStaff Gastroenterologist, Clinica Anglo Americana, Lima, Peru

Received 9 February 2019 Accepted 5 May 2019

Correspondence to Eloy F. Ruiz, MD, Universidad Peruana Cayetano Heredia, Av. Honorio Delgado 430, San Martín de Porres 15102, Peru, Tel/Fax: +51 942-023-055; e-mail: ruizeloyf@gmail.com

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