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Psychosocial characteristics of workers with irritable bowel syndrome and its relationship with abdominal symptoms and work productivity.

OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to validate the psychosocial characteristics and work-related challenges faced by workers exhibiting symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and to clarify the factors that exacerbate abdominal symptoms or hinder work productivity by focusing on IBS-related cognitive-behavioral factors and job-related stressors.

METHODS: An online survey was conducted from October 5 to October 20, 2023, among workers in Japan aged 20-49 years with more than 30 hours of work per week, excluding managers and the self-employed. The data were obtained from 1062 participants (551 women; 329 individuals with IBS).

RESULTS: The levels of depression in the IBS group were significantly higher than those in the Non-IBS group (p<0.05). Cognitive-behavioral variables associated with abdominal symptoms were positively correlated with work productivity (r=0.367-0.483, p<0.001). Hierarchical multiple regression analysis with IBS symptoms and work productivity as dependent variables revealed a significant effect of the interaction between maladaptive cognition related to abdominal symptoms and job control on IBS symptoms (β=-0.164, p=0.002). The association between maladaptive cognition and IBS symptoms was more pronounced when job control was lower. Additionally, IBS symptoms (β=0.130-0.214, p<0.05), maladaptive cognition (β=0.196-0.233, p<0.01), and job overload (β=0.106-0.108, p<0.05) significantly influenced work productivity.

CONCLUSIONS: Maladaptive cognition regarding abdominal symptoms led to more severe abdominal symptoms in situations with a low sense of work control. Beyond cognitive-behavioral interventions for IBS, enhancing the sense of control over work environments is expected to contribute to alleviating abdominal symptoms and, consequently, enhancing work productivity.

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