While doctors have known for some time that psychological therapy can reduce the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome — a gastrointestinal disorder — in the short term, a new study has found that the benefits can extend up to one year after the completion of the therapy.
The beneficial effects of psychological therapy for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) appear to last at least six to 12 months after the therapy has concluded, the study said. “Our study is the first one that has looked at long-term effects,” said senior author Lynn Walker, professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Tennessee, US.
The study analysed the results of 41 clinical trials involving more than 2,200 patients from a number of different countries. “We found that the moderate benefit that psychological therapies confer in the short term continue over the long term. This is significant because IBS is a chronic, intermittent condition for which there is no good medical treatment,” Walker noted.
Characterised by chronic abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating, diarrhoea or constipation, IBS is classified as a disorder of the “brain-gut axis.”
Although no cure is known, there are treatments to relieve symptoms including dietary adjustments, medication and psychological interventions.
The study was published in the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.