A comprehensive self-management program designed to improve quality of life and reduce symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome resulted in sustained changes in behavior after 1 year, according to new research data.
“There is increasing evidence that psychological treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, relaxation therapies, and dietary management, are effective strategies for the management of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS),” the researchers wrote. “Our team therefore combined these strategies to develop a 9-week comprehensive self-management (CSM) program for patients with IBS.”
University of Washington researchers performed a follow-up cohort study of 81 adult patients with IBS (87% women; mean age, 45 ± 15 years; 86% white; 50% constipation-predominant IBS) who were enrolled in a previous randomized clinical trial that showed the CSM program improved symptoms and quality of life compared with standard care (P < .001). At the end of the previous trial, patients selected strategies they intended to continue using to manage their IBS, including dietary strategies, relaxation strategies and alternative thought strategies. At 1 year, patients were then asked how often they used each strategy. The primary aim of the current study was to evaluate which strategies patients found most helpful and adhered to.
Among the CSM “subthemes,” 95% of patients selected specific relaxation strategies, 90% selected diet composition and 90% selected identifying thought distortions. At 1 year, 94% continued to use at least six strategies (range, 3-20), and adherence exceeded 79% for all subthemes. No associations were identified between symptom improvement and using CSM strategies often, nor between demographic and clinical characteristics and strategy selections.
“Our CSM program resulted in sustainable behavioral changes for IBS symptom management in most of our participants, possibly accounting for the long-lasting improvements seen in both GI symptoms and [quality of life],” the researchers concluded. “A multicomponent CSM intervention allowed patients to select the most effective and feasible strategies for their individualized set of symptoms.” – by Adam Leitenberger
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.