Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

Review article: the economic impact of the irritable bowel syndrome

Canavan, Caroline; West, Joe; Card, Timothy R.

Review article: the economic impact of the irritable bowel syndrome Thumbnail


Caroline Canavan

Professor of Epidemiology

Clinical Associate Professor


Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a chronic functional disorder of the gastrointestinal system affecting a large number of people worldwide. Whilst it has no attributable mortality, it has substantial impact on patients' quality of life (QoL) and is associated with considerable healthcare resource use.

Aim: To review the economic impact of IBS, firstly on the individual, secondly on healthcare systems internationally and thirdly to society.

Methods: Appropriate databases were searched for relevant papers using the terms: Irritable Bowel Syndrome; IBS; irritable colon; functional bowel/colonic disease; economics; health care/service costs; health expenditure/resources; health care/service utilisation; productivity.

Results: Irritable bowel syndrome impacts most substantially on patients' work and social life. Reduction in QoL is such that on average patients would sacrifice between 10 and 15 years of their remaining life expectancy for an immediate cure. Between 15% and 43% of patients pay for remedies. No studies quantify loss of earnings related to IBS. Direct care costs are substantial; 48% of patients incur some costs in any year with annual international estimates per patient of: USA $742–$7547, UK £90–£316, France €567–€862, Canada $259, Germany €791, Norway NOK 2098 (€262) and Iran $92. Minimising extensive diagnostic investigations could generate savings and has been shown as not detrimental to patients. Cost to industry internationally through absenteeism and presenteeism related to IBS is estimated between £400 and £900 per patient annually.

Conclusions: costs to patients, healthcare systems and society. Considerable benefit could be obtained from effective interventions.


Canavan, C., West, J., & Card, T. R. (in press). Review article: the economic impact of the irritable bowel syndrome. Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics, 40(9),

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 9, 2014
Online Publication Date Sep 9, 2014
Deposit Date Dec 12, 2016
Publicly Available Date Dec 12, 2016
Journal Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics
Print ISSN 0269-2813
Electronic ISSN 1365-2036
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 40
Issue 9
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Canavan, C., West, J. and Card, T. (2014), Review article: the economic impact of the irritable bowel syndrome. Aliment Pharmacol Ther, 40: 1023–1034. doi:10.1111/apt.12938, which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.


You might also like

Downloadable Citations