Global patterns of prescription pain medication usage in disorders of gut–brain interactions

Yuying Luo, Suzi A. Camey, Shrikant I. Bangdiwala, Olafur S. Palsson, Ami D. Sperber, Laurie A. Keefer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Forty percent of individuals globally meet Rome IV criteria for a disorder of gut–brain interaction (DGBI). The global burden of pain across these disorders has not been characterized. Methods: Our study included 54,127 respondents from the 26 Internet survey countries. Prescription pain medication usage was selected as the proxy for pain. The associations between prescription pain medications and the environmental, sociodemographic, psychosocial, and DGBI diagnosis variables were investigated using the multivariate generalized robust Poisson regression model. Key Results: Respondents with DGBI used prescription pain medications at higher rates than those without a DGBI diagnosis with pooled prevalence rate of 14.8% (95% confidence interval [CI], 14.4–15.3%), varying by country from 6.8% to 25.7%. The pooled prevalence ratio of prescription pain medication usage in respondents with and without DGBI was 2.2 (95% CI: 2.1–2.4). Factors associated with higher prevalence of pain medication usage among respondents with a DGBI diagnosis included living in a small community, increased anxiety, depression or somatization, increased stress concern or embarrassment about bowel functioning and having more than one anatomic DGBI diagnosis. Conclusion: 14.8% of patients globally with at least one diagnosis of DGBI were on prescription pain medications with wide geographic variation, about twice as many as their counterparts without a diagnosis of DGBI. Environmental, sociodemographic, and individual factors may influence clinicians to consider personalized, multimodal approaches to address pain in patients with DGBI.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere14457
JournalNeurogastroenterology and Motility
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2023


  • disorders of gut-brain interaction
  • pain
  • prescription pain medications


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