Pub. date: 2004 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952576 | Print ISBN: 9780761923602 | Online ISBN: 9781412952576| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Irritable Bowel Syndrome: Psychosocial Aspects
Anthony Lembo & Rebecca Fink
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional gastrointestinal disorder that consists of abdominal pain or discomfort combined with altered stool frequency or consistency. The behaviors, illness experiences, and clinical outcomes of people with IBS are closely related to psychosocial factors such as life stress, psychological state, abuse, social support, and coping strategies. IBS is currently viewed within a biopsychosocial context, which incorporates both the physical and psychosocial factors accountable for the illness. Psychosocial factors can affect physical factors, such as gut physiology (i.e., stress can increase the rate of colonic contraction). Gut function can also negatively affect a person's psychosocial state (i.e., frequent exacerbations of abdominal pain can lead to further anxiety and depression and increased vigilance to symptoms). A potentially vicious cycle can then be created between the two, which can worsen IBS symptoms and psychological disturbances. Patients with IBS appear to have an exaggerated gastrointestinal response to stress. ...