Perceptions of illness stigma in patients with inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome

Tiffany H. Taft*, Laurie Keefer, Caroline Artz, Jason Bratten, Michael P. Jones

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


Purpose: To compare the experiences of perceived stigma (PS) in both patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and examine its relationship to patient-reported outcomes in both patient populations. Methods: IBD and IBS patients were recruited from an outpatient gastroenterology clinic and online via support message boards and classifieds. Participants completed a series of questionnaires to measure the perception of illness stigma, psychological functioning, and clinical and demographic data. Results: Two hundred and sixty-nine IBS and 227 IBD patients participated. IBS patients were more likely to report high levels of perceived stigma across a wider range of sources, with the largest difference being for health care providers. Twenty-seven percent of IBS patients reported moderate to high levels of perceived stigma, compared with 8% of IBD. While perception of stigma was correlated with poorer patient-reported outcomes in both patient groups, correlations were larger for IBD compared with IBS. Conclusions: This study demonstrates that both IBD and IBS patients perceive stigma about their illness. As demonstrated by increased depression and anxiety, decreased self-esteem and self-efficacy, and lower quality of life in both patient groups, PS was shown to have a negative impact on clinical outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1391-1399
Number of pages9
JournalQuality of Life Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2011


  • Chronic illness stigmatization
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Patient-reported outcomes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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