The Red Section

Am J Gastroenterol 2012; 107:804–809; doi:10.1038/ajg.2011.485

IBS Patients' Willingness to Take Risks With Medications

Brian E Lacy PhD, MD1, Kelly K Everhart BA1, Kirsten T Weiser MD1, Ryan DeLee MD1, Sebastian Strobel MD1, Corey Siegel MD, MS1 and Michael D Crowell PhD, FACG2

  1. 1Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Lebanon, New Hampshire, USA
  2. 2Division of Gastroenterology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, Arizona, USA

Correspondence: Brian E. Lacy, PhD, MD, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Area 4C, 1 Medical Center Drive, Lebanon, New Hampshire 03756, USA. E-mail:





We explored irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients’ impulsivity and risk-taking behavior and their willingness to take medication risks.



A validated questionnaire assessed the illness experience of IBS patients. A standard gamble evaluated respondents’ willingness to take medication risks.



IBS patients with severe symptoms were more willing to take significant medication risks than those with mild or moderate symptoms. Impulsivity scores were not associated with an increased likelihood of taking medication risks. Age, gender, and years of IBS symptoms were not associated with medication risk-taking behavior. IBS patients reported they would accept a median 1% risk of sudden death for a 99% chance of cure for their symptoms using a hypothetical medication.



IBS patients are willing to take significant medication risks to cure their symptoms. To counsel patients effectively, physicians must determine and understand IBS patients’ risk aversion.