Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain and bowel dysfunction in the absence of structural abnormality. Diagnosis can be challenging and often leads to extensive medical tests, non-effective therapeutic modalities, and reduced quality of life (QOL). Identifying factors associated with dysfunction have the potential to enhance outcomes. Participants with IBS (n
= 41) and healthy volunteers (n
= 74) were recruited into this cross-sectional, descriptive, natural history protocol at the National Institute of Health, Clinical Center. Demographic characteristics were self-reported. QOL was assessed with the Irritable Bowel Syndrome Quality of Life (IBS-QOL) questionnaire. Statistical analysis included descriptive statistics, factorial ANOVA, and multiple regression. Individuals with IBS reported lower QOL scores across all QOL-subscales compared to healthy controls. Normal-weight women and overweight men with IBS reported the greatest QOL impairment. Body fat percent had confounding effects on the relationship between IBS and QOL. The disparity between QOL scores in participants with IBS by both gender and weight groups may reflect different social pressures perceived by normal and overweight women and men. These findings enhance the recognition of the disparities in patients with chronic symptoms and thereby lead to personalized assessment and interventions to improve their QOL.
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