Partner Burden in Irritable Bowel Syndrome
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BACKGROUND & AIMS: Studies have described the burden experienced by caregivers and next of kin to patients with diseases such as cancer. However, the burden of functional gastrointestinal disorders on partners of patients has not been determined. We aimed to quantify the degree of burden to partners of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), to describe the factors that affect the burden perceived, and to identify the areas of relationship that are affected. METHODS: We surveyed 152 patients diagnosed with IBS at a tertiary gastrointestinal clinic, on the basis of Rome III criteria, and their partners. Their partners completed questionnaires including the Zarit Burden Interview (ZBI), Relationship Satisfaction Scale, and questions on sexual relationships. Patients with IBS were rated for disease severity by using the Functional Bowel Disease Severity Index. We compared findings with those from 39 partners of healthy individuals (controls). RESULTS: There were no significant demographic differences between the partners of patients with IBS and controls; demographics had no effect on burden. Burden was significantly higher among partners of IBS patients (mean ZBI score, 22.1) than controls (mean ZBI score, 11.5) (P = .0002). The degree of burden was directly related to IBS severity (P < .0001). There were inverse relationships between partners' rating of burden (ZBI) and relationship quality (R = -0.60; P < .001) and sexual satisfaction (R = -0.56; P < .0001). There was no difference in the Relationship Satisfaction Scale scores (4.25 vs 4.19; P = .78) or sexual relationship (6.47 vs 6.21; P = .64) between partners of IBS patients and controls, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: Partners of patients with IBS have a significant burden (on the basis of ZBI score), compared with partners of healthy individuals. Perceived burden increases with IBS severity and poorer sexual and relationship satisfaction.
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