The team investigated the characteristics of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients recruited for clinical trials.
They compared the characteristics of three different groups of patients recruited into a ‘mock clinical trial', and reported their findings in July's Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.
245 IBS patients were enrolled from three sources. These were from British primary practitioners (n = 121); California newspaper advertisements (n = 72); and from a California gastroenterologist's practice (n = 52).
Demographic, clinical, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) Scale data were obtained on subjects.
Most patients were found to be young to middle-aged women.
The majority of subjects reported symptoms for more than 5 years in all three groups. Subject characteristics varied between the groups.
|Differences in IBS patient groups:|
- Severity of symptoms
- Likelihood of seeking care
|Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics|
Typically, primary care patients were anxious, smokers, and daily alcohol drinkers. They had also sought care recently for IBS and tried antispasmodic drugs. Their symptoms were intermediate in severity between those of the other two groups.
The researchers found that advertisement subjects were the oldest, the most highly educated, and the most often depressed. They were also least likely to have sought care recently for symptoms, which were almost uniformly only moderate in severity.
Gastroenterologist patients tended to be anxious. They had nearly all sought care recently for symptoms, which were the most severe and most likely to include all three pain-related Rome I criteria.
G. F. Longstreth, of the Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Plan, San Diego, California, USA, concluded, "Recruitment methodology affects important characteristics of an irritable bowel syndrome study group."