Published articles

The incidence of acute gastrointestinal illness in Sweden (published in Scandinavian Journal of Public Health, May 2015)

Authors: Frida Hansdotter  Måns Magnusson  Sharon Kühlmann-Berenzon  Anette Hulth  Kristian Sundström  Kjell-Olof Hedlund  Yvonne Andersson 


Aims: The aim of this study was to estimate the self-reported domestic incidence of acute gastrointestinal illness in the Swedish population irrespective of route of transmission or type of pathogen causing the disease. Previous studies in Sweden have primarily focused on incidence of acute gastrointestinal illness related to consumption of contaminated food and drinking water. Methods: In May 2009, we sent a questionnaire to 4000 randomly selected persons aged 0–85 years, asking about the number of episodes of stomach disease during the last 12 months. To validate the data on symptoms, we compared the study results with anonymous queries submitted to a Swedish medical website. Results: The response rate was 64%. We estimated that a total number of 2744,778 acute gastrointestinal illness episodes (95% confidence intervals 2475,641– 3013,915) occurred between 1 May 2008 and 30 April 2009. Comparing the number of reported episodes with web queries indicated that the low number of episodes during the first 6 months was an effect of seasonality rather than recall bias. Further, the result of the recall bias analysis suggested that the survey captured approximately 65% of the true number of episodes among the respondents. Conclusions: The estimated number of Swedish acute gastrointestinal illness cases in this study is about five times higher than previous estimates. This study provides valuable information on the incidence of gastrointestinal symptoms in Sweden, irrespective of route of transmission, indicating a high burden of acute gastrointestinal illness, especially among children, and large societal costs, primarily due to production losses.


Frida Hansdotter

Måns Magnusson

Sharon Kühlmann-Berenzon

Anette Hulth

Kristian Sundström

Kjell-Olof Hedlund

Yvonne Andersson