Study of Reflux Disease and Its Complications

Epidemiology Program

Reflux Disease and Its Complications

The Study of Reflux Disease and its Complications was conducted by scientists at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center between the years of 1998 and 2002. The data from this study are still in use by scientists in investigating the causes and complications of reflux disease.  

What is the purpose of this study?

Each year in the U.S., 5 to 10 million people see a physician because of gastroesophageal reflux symptoms. Some of those people will develop complications of reflux, such as Barrett’s esophagus, strictures, ulcers, and very rarely, cancer. The purpose of this research project is to learn more about the causes of gastroesophageal reflux and its complications, so that they can be prevented more effectively. 

Study Description

The earlier phase of this study had two parts:


  • Clinical participants
    Persons scheduled to receive an endoscopy for reflux symptoms were asked if they wished to participate in the study and have four biopsies taken for research purposes during their doctor-recommended endoscopy procedures. Half of the clinical participants were then invited to participate in a personal interview 3 to 4 weeks later.
  • General population
    Persons from the general population were contacted by phone to identify potentially eligible persons and ask if they would like to participate in a personal interview. We used a process known as 'random digit dialing' to generate phone numbers to call.


  • Those persons who signed an informed consent participated in a 90-minute personal interview about their medical history, jobs, and drinking and smoking habits. A short questionnaire describing usual eating habits was also completed, and participants were asked to provide a small sample of blood. At the time of interview, participants were also asked for their permission to contact them at a later time to see if they would like to take part in a follow up phase.

A follow up phase is being conducted in 2015. We are currently contacting previous study participants who agreed to be re-contacted to learn about their symptoms and medical history since their original interview.