The American Gastroenterological Association (AGA) recently launched Trust Your Gut, an awareness campaign aimed at shortening the time from the onset of bowel symptoms to discussions with a health care provider. As part of the campaign, AGA released new data that shows nearly 40% of Americans have stopped routine activities in the last year due to uncomfortable bowel symptoms, including exercising (19%), running errands (17%), and spending time with family and friends (16%). Despite this disruption, many people remain hesitant to discuss their symptoms with a medical professional. In fact, one in three say they would only discuss their bowel symptoms if their doctor brought it up first.
Trust Your Gut comes at a critical time when 60-70 million Americans are suffering from gastrointestinal (GI) diseases that can create serious disruptions to daily life, many of which can only be diagnosed by a medical professional. Yet, patients often wait to raise digestive symptoms with a health care provider and receive a diagnosis until it gets worse or becomes severe.
Long-instilled norms surrounding discussing bowel symptoms contribute to hesitancy around broaching the subject with a health care provider. AGA’s survey determined that people find talking about symptoms uncomfortable, with many reporting they would rather discuss politics with a relative (15%) or reveal their weight (22%) than discuss bowel symptoms – even with their doctor. An additional 25% reported they would try over-the-counter solutions or conduct research online (22%) before meeting with their health care provider.
“We must normalize the conversation around uncomfortable GI symptoms with our patients,” said Rajeev Jain, MD, AGAF, board-certified gastroenterologist, Texas Digestive Disease Consultants, Dallas, AGA Patient Education Advisor and Trust Your Gut spokesperson. “That means enabling patients to know their normal, know what questions to ask, and shorten the time from the onset of symptoms to the patient-provider conversation.”
Trust Your Gut encourages patients to speak up about bowel symptoms, know their normal and seek help from their health care provider instead of taking matters into their own hands. For more information visit: https://patient.gastro.org/TrustYourGut
The American Gastroenterological Association is the trusted voice of the GI community. Founded in 1897, the AGA has grown to more than 16,000 members from around the globe who are involved in all aspects of the science, practice and advancement of gastroenterology. The AGA Institute administers the practice, research and educational programs of the organization. www.gastro.org.
The AGA Trust Your Gut survey was conducted by Kelton and received 1,010 respondents from a nationally representative sample of adults 18 years of age and older. The survey ran from May 9 through May 11, 2022. The chances are 95 in 100 that a survey result does not vary, plus or minus, by more than 3.0 percentage points from the result that would be obtained if interviews had been conducted with all persons in the universe represented by the sample. The margin of error of any subgroups will be slightly higher.