Studies have described the burden experienced by caregivers and next of kin to patients with diseases such as cancer.
However, the burden of functional gastrointestinal disorders on partners of patients has not been determined.
Dr Reuben Wong quantified the degree of burden to partners of patients with irritable bowel syndrome, to describe the factors that affect the burden perceived, and to identify the areas of relationship that are affected.
The researchers surveyed 152 patients diagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome at a tertiary gastrointestinal clinic, on the basis of Rome III criteria, and their partners.
The doctors reported that the patients' partners completed questionnaires including the Zarit Burden Interview, Relationship Satisfaction Scale, and questions on sexual relationships.
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome were rated for disease severity by using the Functional Bowel Disease Severity Index.
|The calculated pooled gastric cancer incidence-rate was about 0.3% per person-years|
|Clinical Gastroenterology & Hepatology|
The research team found that they compared findings with those from 39 partners of healthy individuals.
There were no significant demographic differences between the partners of patients with irritable bowel syndrome and controls, and demographics had no effect on burden.
The doctors noted that the burden was significantly higher among partners of irritable bowel syndrome patients than controls.
The degree of burden was directly related to irritable bowel syndrome severity.
The researchers found that there were inverse relationships between partners' rating of burden Zarit Burden Interview, relationship quality and sexual satisfaction.
There was no difference in the relationship Satisfaction Scale scores or sexual relationship between partners of irritable bowel syndrome patients and controls, respectively.
Dr Wong and team conclude, "Partners of patients with irritable bowel syndrome have a significant burden, compared with partners of healthy individuals."
"Perceived burden increases with irritable bowel syndrome severity and poorer sexual and relationship satisfaction."