Gender-related differences in dyspepsia: A qualitative systematic review

Sushil K. Ahlawat, Maria Teresa Cuddihy, G. Richard Locke

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

23 Scopus citations


Background: Relative to men, women are diagnosed more frequently with functional gastrointestinal (GI) disorders. With increased awareness of basic gender differences in perception and treatment of visceral pain, there has been new interest in research on gender disparity in the care of people with functional GI disorders. Past attention has focused on irritable bowel syndrome, whereas gender differences in other disorders are less well described. Objective: Our aim was to systematically review studies that have examined gender-related differences among patients with dyspepsia. Methods: MEDLINE, HealthSTAR, and PsycINFO databases were searched for English-language articles on dyspepsia published between 1966 and August 2001. Epidemiologic studies, clinical trials, review articles, and conceptual articles from peer-reviewed journals were included for review. Findings were summarized and discussed within a framework of biological and psychosocial factors. Statistical analysis of combined data was inappropriate because of the inconsistent definition of dyspepsia among different studies and wide variation in the types of articles reviewed. Results: Studies that examine gender-related differences in patients with dyspepsia have focused their investigations on the clinical epidemiology and pathophysiology of dyspepsia. In most epidemiologic studies, no gender analysis was performed beyond a description of sample demographics, and when statistical significance was tested, few consistent gender differences were found. Overall, it appears that men and women with dyspepsia possibly differ with respect to pattern of symptoms, pain perception or modulation, and antinociceptive mechanisms, but these observations have not been confirmed. No study evaluated the clinical implications of these possible differences. Conclusions: Future efforts should be directed to not only examine gender-related differences in the clinical epidemiology of dyspepsia, but also understand their clinical significance. Therefore, well-designed population-based studies using a consistent definition of dyspepsia are needed to investigate the prevalence of dyspepsia symptoms and patterns of dyspepsia management among men and women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)31-42
Number of pages12
JournalGender Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • dyspepsia
  • functional dyspepsia
  • gender differences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies


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