Date of Award

7-9-2009

Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Medical Doctor (MD)

First Advisor

Priya Jamidar

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) symptoms in a young adult population of university students and to examine the relationship between direct-to-consumer marketing and the self-perception of GERD symptoms. GERD is defined as the spectrum of disease usually producing symptoms of heartburn and acid regurgitation. Previous studies have varied prevalences in the adult population ranging from 5% to 45%, depending on the method of diagnosis. However, very little is known about the prevalence of GERD in the young adult population. Proton pump inhibitors (PPIs) are widely utilized to control GERD symptoms, and have been available without a prescription since 2003. During this time period, the use of direct-to-consumer (DTC) marketing of prescription medications was permitted in the United States. The prevalence of GERD in the young adult population, as well as the impact of DTC advertising on the self-reporting of GERD symptoms, is largely unknown. A group-administered questionnaire of 168 graduate and undergraduate students at Yale University was performed between September 2006 and December 2006. The mean age of respondents was 22.26 years. 68.64% of respondents were female. When using a diagnostic qualification of mild symptoms at least one day a week, 3.57% of the subject population reported heartburn symptoms, 8.92% reported regurgitation symptoms, and 1.79% reported both heartburn and regurgitation symptoms. 92.3% of respondents reported exposure to DTC ads, with 89.83% of respondents exposed to PPI advertisements. There was no correlation between exposure to advertisements for heartburn/reflux medications and the self-reporting of GERD symptoms. The prevalence of GERD symptoms in this young adult population is lower than that reported in adult populations. Direct-to-consumer marketing does not appear to influence the way this population perceives GERD symptoms.

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