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This study examined the degree to which individuals with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) show evidence of increased perceived susceptibility to unrelated health problems (Deep Vein Thrombosis, arthritis, bowel cancer) and non-health physical risks (mugging, traffic accident), both when making estimates for themselves and for an average other person of their own age. Participants with IBS differed from both healthy participants and participants with asthma or eczema, making higher estimates of their own lifetime health risks, with differences between healthy individuals and individuals with IBS remaining after controlling for physical symptoms, illness attitudes, anxiety and depression. No differences were observed between the groups in own lifetime estimates of experiencing non-health physical risks, nor were there differences between groups in estimates of risks for an average person of the participant's own age. A perception of increased susceptibility to illness appears to be present in individuals with IBS, leading to biases in the estimation of health risks. This perception is likely to contribute to IBS-related illness behavior, and may increase vulnerability to the development of other functional disorders.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology

Publication Date





216 - 239