Cognitive behavioral therapy could lead to long-term benefits for IBS

In a past study by researchers at the University of Southampton, they demonstrated how patients with refractory irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) may find relief of their symptoms after a session of cognitive behavioral therapy.

In a new study, released in the peer-reviewed journal Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology, researchers did a follow-up and found that the beneficiary effects of cognitive behavioral therapy for symptoms associated with refractory IBS, like abdominal pain and constipation, continued even after two-years.

IBS affects up to 20 percent of adults worldwide, often impairing daily functioning. Researchers speculate the condition may be caused by abnormal gastrointestinal tract movements, heightened awareness of bodily functions, or a miscommunication between the brain and the GI tract.

For the follow-up study, researchers set out to examine the two-year clinical outcomes of participants with IBS as part of the Assessing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for IBS (ACTIB) trial.

In the study, 558 adult participants diagnosed with refractory IBS were randomly assigned to receive either telephone-delivered CBT, web-based CBT, or treatment as usual (TAU). Questionnaires, or a follow-up via telephone communication, were given to assess the outcome of treatment.

According to the findings, both groups that received CBT-based treatment saw a drastic reduction in symptoms of IBS compared to the TAU group, even after a two-year follow-up.

“IBS-specific CBT has the potential to provide long-term improvement in IBS, achievable within a usual clinical setting. Increasing access to CBT for IBS could achieve long-term patient benefit,” the findings state. “This longer-term follow-up provides both patients and clinicians with valuable information that the benefits of CBT for IBS are sustained.