The global prevalence of IBS is difficult to ascertain, particularly in light of the heterogeneity of published epidemiological studies.
Professor Ami Sperber and colleagues from Israel conducted a literature review, by experts from around the world, of community-based studies on IBS prevalence.
Searches were conducted using predetermined search terms and eligibility criteria, including papers in all languages.
Pooled prevalence rates were calculated by combining separate population survey prevalence estimates to generate an overall combined meta-prevalence estimate.
The research team assessed the heterogeneity of studies.
|The mean prevalence among individual countries ranged from 1% in France to 36% in Mexico|
The team reported that 1451 papers were returned and 83, including 288,103 participants in 41 countries, met inclusion criteria.
The mean prevalence among individual countries ranged from 1% in France and Iran to 36% in Mexico.
The researchers found a significant variance in pooled regional prevalence rates ranging from 18% in Latin America, 10% in Asia, 7% in North America/Europe/Australia/New Zealand, to 6% in the Middle East and Africa.
The team observed a significant degree of heterogeneity with the percentage of residual variation due to heterogeneity at 99.9%.
Professor Sperber's team concludes, "The main finding is the extent of methodological variance in the studies reviewed and the degree of heterogeneity among them."
"Based on this, we concluded that publication of a single pooled global prevalence rate, which is easily calculated, would not be appropriate or contributory."
"Furthermore, we believe that future studies should focus on regional and cross-cultural differences that are more likely to shed light on pathophysiology."