Positive Effects of Psychological Treatments Maintained in IBS

Treatments might help ease gastrointestinal symptoms for at least six months

digestive system

THURSDAY, Jan. 7, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Psychological therapies such as relaxation and hypnosis can offer long-term benefits for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to a study published online Dec. 22 in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

The researchers analyzed results from 41 clinical trials involving 2,290 IBS patients (1,183 assigned to psychotherapy and 1,107 assigned to a control condition).

The researchers found several different psychological therapies -- including relaxation, hypnosis, and cognitive behavioral therapy -- to be equally beneficial in helping people change the way they think. Regardless of the length of treatment, the researchers found the effects may last at least six to 12 months after treatment ends. Online treatments were just as effective as those conducted in person.

"Our study is the first one that has looked at long-term effects," senior author, Lynn Walker, Ph.D., a professor of pediatrics at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn., said in a university news release. "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."

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