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Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2019 Sep;31(9):e13663. doi: 10.1111/nmo.13663. Epub 2019 Jun 17.

Nuances of the psychogastroenterology patient: A predictive model for gastrointestinal quality of life improvement.

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Division of Gastroenterology, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA.



Gastrointestinal conditions are multifactorial in nature, and certain patients can benefit greatly from brain-gut psychotherapies delivered by mental health professionals who specialize in psychogastroenterology. This study aimed to identify features associated with improvements in GI-specific quality of life scores following behavioral health interventions (BHI). The second aim was to create a psychogastroenterology referral care pathway incorporating identified characteristics for greatest benefit from GI-specific behavioral therapy.


We performed a prospective observational study of 101 (63 women; median age, 45 years) gastroenterology patients referred for psychogastroenterology consultation at a single center. Patients attended an average of seven sessions with a single GI psychologist where evidence-based brain-gut psychotherapies were employed. GI-specific quality of life (IBS-QOL) and psychological distress (BSI-18) were assessed before and after BHI. Patients completed self-reported questionnaires. We performed a multivariable analysis to determine predictors associated with IBS-QOL score improvement.


A total of 53 (52.5%) patients experienced improvement in IBS-QOL score. Patients with improved IBS-QOL scores had significantly higher baseline BSI general domain T-scores (61.9 vs. 56.9, P = 0.002). Female gender (odds ratio [OR], 3.2), pretreatment BSI somatization T-score ≥63 (OR, 3.7), and a diagnosis of depression (OR, 4.2) were associated with greater odds of IBS-QOL score improvement following BHI.


We identified factors associated with response to GI-specific BHI to aid in optimizing the utilization of psychogastroenterology services and provide referring providers with information to inform treatment recommendations. Female patients with disorders of gut-brain interaction (DGBIs), high somatization, and depression should be considered a priority for brain-gut psychotherapies.


cognitive behavioral therapy; disorders of gut-brain interaction; gut-directed hypnotherapy; inflammatory bowel disease; psychogastroenterology


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