Psychological Treatments in Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: A Primer for the Gastroenterologist
The functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGIDs) often show inadequate response to usual medical care. Psychological treatments can help improve FGID patient outcomes, and such treatment should be considered for patients who have moderate or severe symptoms after 3 to 6 months of medical care, and those whose symptoms are clearly exacerbated by stress or emotional symptoms. Effective psychological treatments, based on multiple randomized controlled trials, include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and hypnosis for irritable bowel syndrome and pediatric functional abdominal pain; CBT for functional chest pain; and biofeedback for dyssynergic constipation in adults. Successful referral by the gastroenterologist for psychological treatment is facilitated by educating the patient about the rationale for such treatment, reassurance about the diagnosis and continuation of medical care, firm doctor-patient therapeutic alliance, and identification of, and communication with, an appropriate psychological services provider.
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