Psychiatric disorders and childhood abuse in the irritable bowel syndrome

Nicholas J. Talley, Keith G. Kramlinger, M. Caroline Burton, Lori J. Colwell, Alan R. Zinsmeister

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Objective: We aimed to determine whether psychiatric disorders and psychological symptoms are associated with the irritable bowel syndrome, and whether childhood sexual abuse is reported more often by patients with irritable bowel syndrome, as these issues continue to be controversial. Design: Prospectively, 32 symptomatic married outpatients with irritable bowel syndrome completed selected portions of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R psychiatric diagnoses, a standardized interview for childhood abuse, and a series of self-report psychological symptom inventories. Controls comprised 20 currently symptomatic married outpatients who had undergone a partial colectomy or ileectomy for organic disease, the spouses of the patients with irritable bowel syndrome, and the spouses of the organic disease controls. Results: Current psychiatric disorders were reported significantly more frequently by patients with irritable bowel syndrome compared with controls, although 69% of these patients were not affected. Childhood abuse was reported more frequently by patients with irritable bowel syndrome, but after adjusting for age and gender, a significant association with diagnostic group was not detected. However, psychiatric disorders were significantly more frequent in those with a history of childhood abuse. Self-report psychological symptom inventories did not discriminate between patients with the irritable bowel syndrome and controls. Conclusion: Our findings suggest that while standardized psychiatric interviews give more information than self-report rating scales, psychopathology may not be the major explanation for at least a subset of patients with the irritable bowel syndrome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)647-654
Number of pages8
JournalEuropean Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1993


  • Abuse
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Functional bowel disorders
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Panic disorder
  • Psychiatric diagnoses
  • Somatoform disorder

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology


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