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Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016 Feb;14(2):212-9.e1-2. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2015.09.027. Epub 2015 Nov 19.

A Comprehensive Self-Management Irritable Bowel Syndrome Program Produces Sustainable Changes in Behavior After 1 Year.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Medicine, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington. Electronic address:
Department of Biobehavioral Nursing and Health Systems, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington.



We developed a comprehensive self-management (CSM) program that combines cognitive behavioral therapy with relaxation and dietary strategies; 9 sessions (1 hour each) over 13 weeks were shown to reduce gastrointestinal symptoms and increase quality of life in a randomized trial of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), compared with usual care. The aims of this study were to describe strategies patients with IBS selected and continued to use, 12 months after the CSM program began.


We performed a cohort study to continue to follow 81 adults with IBS (87% female; mean age, 45 ± 15 years old) who received the CSM program in the previous clinical trial. During the last CSM session, participants selected strategies they intended to continue using to manage their IBS. CSM strategies were categorized into subthemes of diet (composition, trigger foods, meal size or timing, and eating behaviors), relaxation (specific relaxation strategies and lifestyle behaviors), and alternative thoughts (identifying thought distortions, challenging underlying beliefs, and other strategies). Twelve months later, participants were asked how often they used each strategy (not at all or rarely, occasionally, often, very often, or almost always).


At the last CSM session, 95% of the patients selected the subthemes of specific relaxation strategies, 90% selected diet composition, and 90% identified thought distortions for continued use. At 12 months, 94% of the participants (76 of 81) were still using at least 6 strategies, and adherence was greater than 79% for all subthemes.


We developed a CSM program to reduce symptoms and increase quality of life in patients with IBS that produced sustainable behavioral changes in almost all patients (94%) after 1 year of follow-up.


Alternative Medicine; Behavioral Therapy; Psychology; Self-Management

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