OBJECTIVE: The aim of this work was to study cross-cultural variations in the impact of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) on health-related quality of life by an international comparison of disease-related concerns. METHODS: Item and factor scores on the Rating Form of Inflammatory Bowel Disease Patient Concerns and overall mean concern levels were compared by analysis of variance among 2002 IBD patients in eight countries. RESULTS: The overall level of concern varied from 51 out of 100 in Portugal to 19 in Sweden, with intermediate scores for Italy (43), Canada (40), United States (39), France (39), Austria (33), and Israel (25). Having surgery, an ostomy, the uncertain nature of the disease, and medication side effects were each rated among the first five in importance in six countries. Other items varied considerably. For example, concern regarding pain and suffering was high in Israel and low in Portugal, whereas concern over developing cancer was low in Italy. Concern over financial issues and access to high-quality health care were inversely associated with measures of national economic prosperity. CONCLUSIONS: 1) Cross-cultural comparisons of patient concerns related to IBD are feasible using translated scales. 2) Reporting tendencies vary greatly; within Europe, patients from southern countries report greater overall concern. 3) The complications and the variable evolution of disease elicit general concern, but the importance of specific issues varies among countries. 4) The reasons for national differences may have social, cultural, and/or economic determinants with relevance to the patient-physician relationship, patient education, and therapeutic decision making.