Short-term and Long-term Efficacy of Psychological Therapies for Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

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Abstract

Background & Aims:

Several meta-analyses have demonstrated the efficacy of psychological therapies for reducing gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms in patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, no meta-analysis has investigated the duration of these effects. We performed a meta-analysis to assess the immediate, short-term, and long-term efficacy of psychotherapy for reducing GI symptoms in adults with IBS.

Methods:

We searched PubMed, PsycINFO, Science Direct, and ProQuest Dissertations and Theses through August 15, 2015 for randomized controlled trials that compared psychological therapy with an active or non-active comparison (control) condition for treatment of GI symptoms in adults with IBS.

Results:

Forty-one trials were included in our meta-analysis, comprising data from 2290 individuals (1183 assigned to psychotherapy and 1107 assigned to a control condition). Compared with a mixed group of control conditions, psychological therapies had a medium effect on GI symptom severity (Symbol= 0.69) immediately after treatment. On average, individuals who received psychotherapy had a greater reduction in GI symptoms after treatment than 75% of individuals assigned to a control condition. After short-term follow-up periods (1–6 months after treatment) and long-term follow-up periods (6–12 months after treatment), this effect remained significant and medium in magnitude (Symbol= 0.76 andSymbol= 0.73, respectively).

Conclusions:

Psychological therapies reduce GI symptoms in adults with IBS. These effects remained significant and medium in magnitude after short-term and long-term follow-up periods.

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