Cognitive Techniques Improve IBS Symptoms


A recent study by Dr Susan Gaylord and colleagues from North Carolina, USA has explored the feasibility and efficacy of a group program of mindfulness training, a cognitive-behavioral technique, for women with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
The technique involves training individuals how to intentionally attend to present-moment experience and how to have a non-judgmental awareness of the body’s sensations and emotions.

The research team randomly assigned 75 female IBS patients to either eight weekly or one half-day intensive session of either mindfulness group training or a support group.

The researchers observed that women in the mindfulness group showed greater reductions in IBS symptom severity immediately after training, and at 3-month follow-up relative to those within the support group.

The team also found that changes in quality of life, psychological distress, and visceral anxiety were not significantly different between the groups immediately after treatment, but evidenced significantly greater improvements in the mindfulness group than in the support group at the 3-month follow-up.

The researchers found that mindfulness scores increased significantly more in the mindfulness group after treatment, confirming effective learning of mindfulness skills.

In addition, participants’ ratings of the credibility of their assigned interventions, measured after the first group session, were not different between groups.

However, Dr Gaylord’s team commented, “This randomised controlled trial demonstrated that mindfulness training has a substantial therapeutic effect on bowel symptom severity, improves health-related quality of life, and reduces distress.”

“The beneficial effects persist for at least 3 months after group training.”

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