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Prevalence and factors associated with irritable bowel syndrome among medical students of Karachi, Pakistan: A cross-sectional study

Syed Saad Naeem1, Efaza Umar Siddiqui1, Abdul Nafey Kazi3*, Akhtar Amin Memon1, Sumaiya Tauseeq Khan1 and Bilal Ahmed2

Author Affiliations

1 Medical Students, Dow Medical College, Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, Pakistan

2 MSc Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Department of Medicine, Aga Khan University, Karachi, Pakistan

3 Dow University of Health Sciences, Karachi, 74800, Pakistan

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:255  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-255

Published: 24 May 2012



Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and its association with stress, has not been studied among university students in Pakistan. We investigated the prevalence and the pattern of anxiety related IBS symptoms among medical students of Karachi.


An observational case–control study was carried out at three medical colleges of Karachi, Pakistan. Random sampling was done on 360 medical students. Data was collected using validated tools “Rome III Criteria” and “Generalized Anxiety Disorder Questionnaire”. Participants with IBS were diagnosed on the criteria having experienced abdominal discomfort at least 2–3 days/month associated with high level of anxiety. The apparent prevalence of IBS was found to be 28.3%, with a predominance of 87 (85.29%) females (85.29%) over males (14.71%). The psychological symptoms of anxiety were encountered in 57 (55.8%) participants with IBS, among which males were 15.7% and females 84.2% respectively.


Students who more frequently suffer with mental stress and anxiety are more associated with IBS.

Irritable bowel syndrome; Anxiety; Stress; Abdominal discomfort; Medical students