Background  The prevalence of Barrett's oesophagus in patients undergoing gastroscopy may be influenced by possible referral bias.

Aim  To present the prevalence of Barrett's oesophagus from the the Canadian Adult Dyspepsia Empirical Therapy Prompt Endoscopy study and to explore potential risk factors for its presence.

Methods  Patients had not been on treatment for dyspepsia for 2–4 weeks prior to endoscopy, which was performed within 10 working days of presentation.

Results  Barrett's oesophagus was endoscopically suspected in 53 of 1040 cases (5%) and histologically confirmed by the presence of intestinal metaplasia in 25 (2.4%). The prevalence of biopsy-proven Barrett's oesophagus was 4% in patients with dominant reflux-like symptoms. Sixty-four percent with confirmed Barrett's oesophagus had dominant reflux-like symptoms compared with 37% without Barrett's oesophagus. Barrett's oesophagus was more common in patients >50 years of age; 68% of cases were males. The mean duration of symptoms was 10 years, yet 16% had symptoms of <1-year duration. Endoscopic reflux oesophagitis was present in 68% of confirmed Barrett's oesophagus patients.

Conclusions  Barrett's oesophagus is confirmed on biopsy in about half of endoscopically suspected Barrett's oesophagus patients. Barrett's oesophagus is more common in males, in those with dominant reflux-like symptoms, and in patients with a longer symptom history.