Psychological education for patients with irritable bowel syndrome can reduce both symptoms and follow-up visits, according to a new trial.
Researchers found that a course of education on the syndrome from a gastroenterologist significantly lowered overall gastrointestinal symptom scores, assessed using a 20-point scale, with intervention participants averaging 7.8 compared to 10.9 in the control group at the end of the study period. This significance was maintained at three month follow-up.
The intervention group demonstrated significantly higher quality of life scores compared to controls. Patients in the psycho-education group scored 77.6 on the IBS Quality of Life instrument, compared to 66.4 in the control group.
The trial featured 69 patients randomised to receive either psychological education or a wait-listed control. The intervention lasted five weeks and featured interactive lectures from a gastroenterologist and lessons on beliefs and attitudes in IBS.
The US authors concluded: ‘The psycho-educational group intervention would be beneficial to patients and clinicians, by reducing the cost of treatment, the amount of unnecessary follow-up visits to clinicians and enhancing the patients’ ability to self-manage.’
Aliment Pharmacol Ther 2012, available online 3 December