In a recent study, fear of gastrointestinal symptoms was found to be a strong predictor of impaired quality of life in patients with irritable bowel syndrome.
“The impact of fear of symptoms on quality of life (QOL) in IBS patients may exceed the impact of GI symptoms alone,” Jeffrey Lackner, PsyD, professor and director of the University at Buffalo Behavioral Medicine Clinic, told Healio.com/Gastroenterology. “Understanding the predictors of QOL can strengthen gastroenterologists’ ability to accurately assess, understand and manage more severe IBS patients seen in specialty care settings.”
Aiming to assess the extent of the associations between impaired QOL, fear of IBS symptoms and confounding variables, Lackner and colleagues evaluated 234 patients with IBS (mean age, 41 years; 79% women) recruited at two academic medical centers in Buffalo, N.Y., and Chicago, as part of an NIH-funded clinical trial. All participants met Rome III criteria, reported at least moderate symptom severity and had no GI comorbidities. They completed a battery of tests, including the IBS-QOL, SF-12, the UCLA GI Symptom Severity Scale, the Visceral Sensitivity Index, Trait Anxiety Inventory and Brief Symptom Inventory.
The researchers developed a QOL predictive model using the collected data, which included sociodemographic, clinical and psychosocial variables. The variables in the final model accounted for 48.7% of the variance in IBS-QOL (P<.01); fear of GI symptoms was the strongest predictor of IBS-QOL, accounting for 14.4% of the total variance (P<.01).
“[Gastroenterologists] that recognize the emotional aspect of GI symptoms may be better able to maximize the therapeutic value of medical treatments, recognize their limitations, and triage more complex patients to evidence-based psychological treatments that target more directly the fear component of IBS,” Lackner said. — by Adam Leitenberger
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.