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Self-Help Measures for IBS Can Cut Primary Care Costs

Patients should be given information on how to aid medical treatment process

THURSDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- When patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are given a self-help guidebook as part of the treatment for their condition, they visit primary care settings less frequently and report a perceived improvement in their condition, according to a study in the May issue of Gut.

Andrew Robinson, Ph.D., of Hope Hospital in Manchester, U.K., and colleagues conducted a study of 420 IBS patients from 54 primary care centers who were randomized into two groups, one which received a self-help guidebook or the guidebook plus a self-help group meeting, and a control group receiving neither intervention. Data sources were primary care records and questionnaires.

After one year, the patients in the guidebook group had 60 percent fewer primary care consultations and reported a perceived reduction in the severity of their symptoms, compared with the control group. Those allocated to the self-help group showed no additional benefit, nor was there much change in actual symptom scores in any group. The intervention resulted in a 40 percent annual cost saving.

The introduction of a self-help booked resulted in "a clear reduction in health services utilization and costs without any deterioration in symptoms or other health outcomes. We therefore suggest that the intervention could be used as a first-line treatment for patients presenting with functional bowel symptoms in primary care," the authors conclude.

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