Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common chronic and episodic gastrointestinal (GI) disorder that affects millions of Americans. In fact, IBS is more prevalent than hypertension, asthma, diabetes, and heart disease, and this disorder brings with it a comparable financial burden. The economic consequences of IBS to employers, however, were not investigated until recently.
In a study published in the April 2003 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers determined the financial burden that IBS places on employers by examining direct and indirect costs of IBS for a national Fortune 100 manufacturer. Through retrospective analysis of administrative claims data, they found that employees with IBS incurred costs for employers that were on average 1.5 times higher ($6364 vs $4245; P < .001) than costs incurred by employees in the matched, control sample. Employees with IBS also used a significantly greater number of medical services (ie, physician visits and outpatient care) than did control employees.