Embarrassment may be to blame for underdiagnosis of GI conditions: 5 study insights

Lack of communication may lead to the underdiagnosis of chronic gastrointestinal conditions, according to a survey of gastroenterologists, primary care physicians and adult patients with GI issues.

The survey, titled EPI Uncovered, was conducted by the American Gastroenterological Association and sponsored by AbbVie. Through the survey, AGA aimed to identify why "so many may accept GI discomfort as being the new 'normal,'" according to a press release.

Here's what you need to know:

1. A total of 47 percent of patients said they waited to see if their troubles would go away before speaking with a physician.

2. Patients with chronic GI symptoms wait an average of almost four years to discuss their condition with a physician.

3. When considering patients who found it difficult to discuss their symptoms with a physician, 60 percent reported embarrassment as their main reason for not disclosing symptoms to a physician sooner.

4. A total of 66 percent of patients had not heard of exocrine pancreatic insufficiency prior to their diagnosis, suggesting that patients may not be educated on the symptoms to look for.

5. Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency is difficult to diagnose, because many of its symptoms are similar to those of other GI conditions; physicians noted that around 25 percent of their patients with exocrine pancreatic insufficiency were initially diagnosed with a different condition.

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