DDW: Meditation May Improve Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Mindfulness training helps with bowel symptom severity, quality of life, psychological symptoms

TUESDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- Mindfulness meditation is associated with improvements in bowel symptom severity, health-related quality of life, and psychological symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), according to research presented at Digestive Disease Week 2011, held from May 7 to 10 in Chicago.

Susan A. Gaylord, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and colleagues randomized 75 female patients with IBS to either a course of mindfulness training (MT) or a support group (SG), both consisting of eight weekly group sessions plus a half-day retreat.

Pre-treatment IBS-SS (severity scores) and IBS-QOL (quality of life) scores were equivalent among the MT and SG patients. Sixty-six participants completed the intervention course, including 34 patients receiving MT and 32 undergoing SG. The investigators found a significantly greater reduction in the primary outcome variable of overall IBS symptom severity after treatment in the MT group compared to the SG after treatment (IBS-SS score change, 25.4 versus 6.2 percent) and at three-month follow-up (38.2 versus 11.8 percent). However, changes in quality-of-life impairment, visceral anxiety, and psychological distress did not differ significantly between the MT group and SG at post-treatment assessment, but all variables showed greater improvement in the MT group compared to the SG at three-month follow-up.

"This first randomized controlled trial of mindfulness training as an intervention for IBS shows that such training has a substantial therapeutic effect on bowel symptom severity and also results in improved health-related quality of life and reduced psychological symptoms. The beneficial effects last at least three months after end of training," the authors write.

Abstract No. 219
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