Background/Aims: Management of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) imposes a heavy economic burden. This study was to estimate the epidemiologic features of IBS and to report the IBS burden for the first time in the Korean population. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted using the National Health Insurance (NHI) system database, which covers the entire population of Korea. IBS was defined as diagnostic code -10 in adults with any outpatient clinic visits or hospitalization related to IBS. We excluded diseases that mimic IBS symptoms. Results: A total of 2.42 million (58.2% female) individuals were identified as patients with IBS, yielding an age- and gender-adjusted prevalence of 5.1% in males and 6.9% in females. The prevalence of IBS increased proportionally with age, with higher medical costs in middle-aged patients. Outpatient clinics were visited by 98.6% of IBS patients, and 1.9% were treated upon admission. Of these patients, 87.6% were given a prescription. Co-morbidities that commonly accompanied IBS included upper gastrointestinal (36.1%), respiratory (12.3%), musculoskeletal (8.0%) disease, somatoform (4.3%) and depression/anxiety disorders (3.1%). The NHI costs of IBS, which include the NHI covered cost and beneficiary copayment charges, were estimated to be 155 million USD, which accounts for 0.46% of the total NHI costs for the entire Korean population. Conclusions: According to the Korean national claims database, about 6% of the Korean population seeks medical care for IBS at least once per year. This high prevalence places a large economic burden on the Korean healthcare system, accounting for 0.46% of overall national medical expenditure.
- Cost of illness
- Irritable bowel syndrome