The general practitioner's approach to irritable bowel syndrome: From intention to practice

M. Bellini, C. Tosetti, F. Costa, S. Biagi, C. Stasi, A. Del Punta, P. Monicelli, M. G. Mumolo, A. Ricchiuti, P. Bruzzi, S. Marchi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Although general practitioners play a critical role in the management of irritable bowel syndrome because they deal with the most patients, guidelines are developed mainly by specialists. Aims: To evaluate the clinical features of irritable bowel patients and the general practitioners' approach to irritable bowel syndrome in Italy. Subjects and methods: A questionnaire focusing on the management of this syndrome was completed by 28 general practitioners. Clinical features and diagnostic and treatment measures taken in 229 patients were analysed. Results: Only 35.7% of the general practitioners were familiar with the Rome II criteria. Changes in bowel habits and abdominal pain/discomfort were the most common symptoms. Constipation (74.2%) was more frequent as the main symptom than diarrhoea. Routine blood tests (76.4%) and abdominal ultrasound (42.2%) were requested more frequently than colonoscopy (31.1%). At least one specialist consultation was recommended in 63.3% of patients. Drugs (mainly antispasmodics) were prescribed more frequently for diarrhoea (91.4%) than for constipation (55.7%). Conclusions: General practitioners are little acquainted with the Rome II criteria. Diagnostic tests and specialist consultations are often recommended; antispasmodics are the most frequently prescribed drug. Guidelines should be developed together by general practitioners and gastroenterologists to effectively manage patients at a lower cost.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)934-939
Number of pages6
JournalDigestive and Liver Disease
Issue number12
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2005


  • General practitioner
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Primary care
  • Secondary care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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