1. Moore, Judith Sandra MSN, RN
  2. Gagan, Mary Jo RN, NP, FAANP
  3. Perry, Richard Edward MBChB, DipObs, FRACS


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common, functional disorder, affecting up to 20% of the population in the Western world, becoming more prevalent in developing countries. Currently in New Zealand, patients are managed by their general practitioner but are not able to be seen in the public system as it is not a life-threatening disease. This means many have no access to help. It takes significantly more time in consultation to identify causes and triggers of IBS symptoms than the average time allocated for consultation in most primary healthcare facilities. New patients seen over an 8-month period attending an advanced nurse practitioner-led IBS service in Christchurch, New Zealand, were invited to participate in a study investigating whether or not attending this service improved the identification and management of symptoms of IBS. Forty percent of patients were found to have an alternate diagnosis, the most common being inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Forty-five patients (82%) completed 2 questionnaires 3 months apart where it was found that there was greater satisfaction in being managed by the nurse-led service than by their initial healthcare provider. There was also a significant improvement in quality of life, and a significant reduction in symptoms, symptom severity, and frequency, although there was no improvement in coping strategies. This indicates that the provision of such specialist nurse-led services can support medical colleagues by providing a specialty service for patients with symptoms of IBS or other functional disorders.