Prevalence of functional gastrointestinal disorders in women who report domestic violence to the police

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Background & Aims: Retrospective studies found an association between past sexual, physical, or psychological abuse and functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs). However, there are no studies evaluating such an association concurrently with the ongoing abuse. Our aim was to investigate the prevalence of the main FGIDs, functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome, in 70 women reporting a situation of domestic violence to the police and to evaluate the level of psychological distress and its relationship with the presence of FGID. Methods: Through an interview between a social worker and the woman reporting abuse, digestive symptoms, psychological status, and type of abuse were recorded. These data were matched against police records. Functional dyspepsia and irritable bowel syndrome were diagnosed according to Rome II criteria. Results: Seventy-one percent of the women had an FGID: 67% functional dyspepsia, 47% irritable bowel syndrome, and 43% both. In two thirds of the cases, FGID onset occurred simultaneously with or soon after abuse onset. Only 34% of the women had sought medical attention for FGID symptoms. No differences were found between women with or without FGID regarding age and type or duration of abuse; psychological distress tended to be more severe in the group of women with FGIDs. Conclusions: Most women who suffer domestic violence (reported to the police) have functional dyspepsia and/or irritable bowel syndrome and also have elevated psychological distress. This has important implications, not only for comprehensive health care of women in a situation of abuse, but also for medical treatment of women with FGIDs. © 2005 by the American Gastroenterological Association.




Perona, M., Benasayag, R., Perelló, A., Santos, J., Zárate, N., Zárate, P., & Mearin, F. (2005). Prevalence of functional gastrointestinal disorders in women who report domestic violence to the police. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, 3(5), 436–441.

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