Gastrointestinal disorders and work-related absenteeism

Those who suffer from common functional gastrointestinal disorders face work productivity losses and impairments in daily activity that amount to the loss of at least one day of work in a 40-hour workweek, according to a new study presented at the Annual Scientific Meeting of the American College of Gastroenterology.

Functional gastrointestinal disorders are associated with impaired quality of life and are among the most common causes of work-related absenteeism. Moreover, studies suggest these disorders also take a toll in the workplace, contributing to problems of “presenteeism” – coming to work but being less productive.

Researcher G. Richard Locke, M.D., FACG from Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and co-investigators from Novartis Pharmaceuticals enrolled participants in the Patient Registry for Observational Gastrointestinal Research Epidemiology and Symptom Severity (PROGRESS) study, including patients with IBS with constipation (IBS-C), chronic constipation (CC) alone, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), or functional dyspepsia (FD) (chronic or recurrent pain or discomfort centered in the upper abdomen including feeling full earlier than expected with eating, sometimes accompanied by bloating, belching, nausea or heartburn.) Participants answered a questionnaire bi-weekly for a year between April 2005 and April 2006.

In the analysis, Dr. Locke and colleagues found that patients with IBS-C, CC and FD reported greater work productivity loss and daily impairment over a six-month period than patients with GERD alone. The mean hours lost per week for the GERD patients were 6.3 compared to 10.3 hours per week for those with the other functional GI disorders. GERD patients also scored lower on a scale measuring impairment/productivity loss resulting from GI disorders than those patients with chronic functional GI problems, reflecting a greater burden of illness for conditions such as IBS with constipation, chronic constipation and chronic abdominal problems. According to Dr. Locke, “This research demonstrates the significant economic impact of these common conditions.”

Founded in 1932, the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) is an organization with an international membership of more than 10,000 individuals from 80 countries. The College is committed to serving the clinically oriented digestive disease specialist through its emphasis on scholarly practice, teaching and research. The mission of the College is to serve the evolving needs of physicians in the delivery of high quality, scientifically sound, humanistic, ethical, and cost-effective health care to gastroenterology patients.

The ACG is committed to providing accurate, unbiased and up-to-date health information. Visit the ACG Web site http://www.acg.gi.org to access educational resources for patients and their families spanning the broad range of digestive diseases and conditions - both common and not-so-common. Organized by disease, state and organ system, these educational materials, developed by ACG physician experts, are offered for the information and benefit of patients and the public.

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