Results and Followup to Gastrointestinal Society, Canada 2016 Survey on Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)

January 29, 2017

About one year ago, on January 26, 2016, IBS Impact posted a national online survey invitation by the Gastrointestinal (GI) Society, also known as the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research. The GI Society asked adults with diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome and parents/caregivers of children with diagnosed irritable bowel syndrome from across Canada about experiences, opinions and effects of IBS, with the intention of using the results to shape the organization’s programs, as well as future community awareness and advocacy among health care providers and policy makers and the general public.

Last month, the GI Society posted a report, Gastrointestinal Society 2016 Survey Results: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), which is available for download in PDF format from the link. Some highlights include the following:

There were a total of 2961 responses from all provinces and territories of Canada, approximately proportional to population. 2505 participants responded in English and 456 in French from the organization’s French-language mirror site. 86% of respondents were female, 14% male. 90% were between the ages of 30-69.

53% had had IBS for more than 10 years. 41% reported IBS-M (mixed subtype, formerly referred to as IBS-A for alternating), 35% IBS-D (diarrhea-predominant subtype), 18% IBS-C (constipation-predominant subtype) and 6% unsure. In a question rating pain in the previous 3 months on a 1-5 scale with 1 as no pain, and 5 as the worst pain, 4% chose 1, 20% chose 2, 39% chose 3, 28% chose 4 and 9% chose 5. Respondents were also asked to rate other common IBS symptom severity as never experience, mild, moderate, and severe.

According to the report, fewer than half of respondents have seen a gastroenterologist. Those who have consulted doctors for IBS mostly see general practitioners. 26% reported not seeing a doctor for IBS at least once a year. Of the remainder, the largest subgroups reported 1-2 visits or 3-5 visits. Small percentages in the single digits each reported 6-10 visits or 11 or more visits. 12% stated they had been hospitalized for IBS. 62% use two or more medications or treatments regularly. 16% stated they cannot afford prescribed treatments and 26% that they can only afford some. Medications commonly used for IBS pain are sufficiently effective for only about one-third. Only 21% of survey participants describe their symptoms as under control, 45% somewhat under control, 34% no symptoms under control. The report notes that these results are similar to a 2015 nationwide survey by the American Gastroenterological Association in the United States, IBS in America.

Most of the GI Society’s respondents also indicate co-existing medical conditions and/or quality of life effects. 83% report the need to limit their diet. 71% report anxiety at least some of the time with 27%  reporting an anxiety disorder diagnosis. 32% have a mood disorder, 27% gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), 24% sleep disorders, 15% fibromyalgia. 76% state that IBS interferes with everyday activities at least some of the time. 37% overall state that in an average month they cannot leave their homes at least some of the time, with higher percentages in the IBS-D subset.  46% of respondents who are employed and/or are students report that they miss time from work or school in an average month due to IBS.

The report concludes that there continue to be unmet treatment and quality of life needs for many Canadians with IBS and that in particular, IBS pain needs improved treatment options, as that remains a significant symptom for most people with IBS that is significantly associated with decreased quality of life. The report also states that the time between symptom onset and diagnosis and diagnosis and relief of symptoms needs to be shortened. This may be possible through increased collaboration between patients and physicians.

The GI Society is asking those who responded in the original survey to participate in a five question online followup survey. The original survey is now completed and no longer available for new replies, but the GI Society also invites those who did not have the opportunity to complete the original survey to answer the followup. At this time, January 29, 2017, the followup questions are open at the original survey link. No closing date for responses is indicated. Please address any questions about this survey directly to the GI Society

IBS Impact commends the Gastrointestinal Society for its efforts to gather and publicize the views of its constituency. We encourage  Canadian readers with IBS or IBS-affected minor children to continue to express and advocate for their needs and desires to the organization and their health care and community services providers and national, provincial and local policy makers through the followup survey and other means. We hope that the survey results amplify and catalyze positive changes for the IBS community in Canada, and by extension, worldwide.


Upcoming GI Society, Canada, IBS Education and Support Events for April and May 2016.

March 20, 2016

The Gastrointestinal (GI) Society, also known as the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, is offering four “Bad Gut Lectures” on various aspects of irritable bowel syndrome in different locations within British Columbia during April and May 2016. These are appropriate both for people with IBS and their “support circles,” such as family and friends, and health professionals.  These are free of charge, but advance registration is required.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016 at the Studio Theatre in Maple Grove,  7:00-8:30 PM :

Overview of IBS and treatments by Dr. James R. Gray, a gastroenterologist

Wednesday, April 27m 2016 at the Surrey Memorial Hospital in Surrey, 7:00-8:30 PM:

Overview of IBS and treatments by Dr. James R. Gray, a gastroenterologist

Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at the Executive Suites and Conference Centre in Burnaby, 7:00-8:30 PM

Overview of IBS and focus on stress management by Dr. James R. Gray, a gastroenterologist and Claire Maisonneuve, a registered clinical counsellor

Tuesday, May 31, 2016 at the Poco Inn and Suites Hotel in Port Coquitlam, 7:00-8:30 PM

Overview of IBS and focus on the low-FODMAP diet  by Dr. James R. Gray, a gastroenterologist and Anne-Marie Stelluti, a registered dietitian

Those interested in attending any of the above lectures may register on the GI Society website at

For people with IBS in the Toronto and Montreal areas, the GI Society also offers ongoing monthly in-person support groups. Please see the GI Society support group page for exact times and locations and the GI Society’s guidelines for members.  The GI Society advises that prospective attendees call its office in advance to confirm that the meeting for a given month is occurring as scheduled.

Please address any questions about the above programs directly to the GI Society. IBS Impact hopes that these resources are helpful to our Canadian readers in British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec.


Online Survey: Adults with IBS and Parents/Caregivers of Children with IBS in Canada, January 2016

January 26, 2016

The Gastrointestinal (GI) Society, also known as the Canadian Society of Intestinal Research, is inviting people residing throughout Canada who have irritable bowel syndrome or are parents or caregivers of children with irritable bowel syndrome to take part in an anonymous online survey. This survey will ask about day to day experiences, opinions and effects of IBS and will be used by the GI Society to shape the organization’s programs and community awareness and advocacy among health care providers and policy makers and the general public.

The survey will be open and available on the GI Society website until April 30, 2016 and can be accessed at the following link.

If you voluntarily choose to provide the GI Society with contact information at the end of the survey, you will be entered into a random drawing for an iPad mini. The drawing will take place on May 2, 2016.

Please address any questions about this survey directly to the GI Society.

We welcome researchers affiliated with academic, medical or pharmaceutical entities, or reputable organizations representing IBS or related or commonly overlapping conditions, to contact us directly with additional studies or surveys they wish to be considered for posting. A contact form is available on the main IBS Impact website.

IBS Impact makes these announcements available for general information, and encourages its members and site visitors to make their own individual, informed choices about their potential participation.  IBS Impact, as an entity, is not directly affiliated with any research sponsor or organization and receives no funding from any source for studies, surveys or links we feature on this blog, the main site or social media.