In this study we try to understand how physicians can benefit from a social healthcare forum for a chronic digestive disease like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Based on over half a million posts over 16 years, we compared the frequencies of selected keywords and their concurrent and time-lagged concordance with publication trends in the scientific medical literature. We found reciprocal associations between publication and patient positing trends in most of the keywords considered, and some instances where online users' interest in particular keywords may be lagging or leading the publication trends in the medical literature. Results from this study suggest that online forums provide an alternative, personalized platform for patients to express and address person-specific concerns (e.g., interest in alternative treatments, life stress), which may in turn improve patient/physician relationship and management of this poorly understood condition. In addition, previously unrecognized associations of symptoms as described by a large number of patients may offer insights into pathophysiologic processes that may not be recognized during the management of individual patients.