Prevalence and burden of gut-brain interaction disorders in UK medical students

Prevalence and burden of gut-brain interaction disorders in UK medical students


Background: Disordered gut-brain interaction (DGBI) affects 40% of the general population and is associated with significant health impairment. Medical students are reported to have one of the highest rates of DGBI, although data are mainly from Asia and Africa. We investigated this issue in a UK university.

Methods: 378 of 1621 medical students completed an online survey. Demographic data, medical history, and gastrointestinal symptoms were collected, the latter using the Modified Rome IV Questionnaire to determine the presence or absence of DGBI symptoms in the past 3 months. Additional validated questionnaires assessed somatization, psychological distress, eating disorders, quality of life, and burnout.

Results: DGBI was present in 76% (n = 289/378), of which two out of three affected more than one site. The most common DGBI was gastrointestinal disease (57%), followed by intestinal disease (49%), esophageal disease (29%), and anorectal disease (26%). Approximately 50% of students with DGBI experienced painful gastrointestinal symptoms at least one day per week. Compared with students without DGBI, students with DGBI had significantly higher anxiety and depression scores, reported physical symptoms more frequently, had poorer mental and physical quality of life, poorer eating habits, and were more likely to take medications ( p -values, all

Conclusion: Medical students often suffer from DGBI and its associated health burden but rarely seek help. Increased awareness may lead to more support, improved health outcomes, and increased study engagement.


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