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Self-help interventions in irritable bowel syndrome
  1. A P S Hungin
  1. Correspondence to:
    Professor A P S Hungin
    Centre for Integrated Health Care Research, Wolfson Research Institute, University of Durham, Queen’s Campus, Stockton on Tees TS17 6BH, UK; A.P.S.Hungin{at}

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Self-management approach in irritable bowel syndrome was effective in reducing primary care consultations and perceived symptom severity

What if someone offered you a simple, accessible, and low cost management for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which offered results? And moreover, all that was needed was an initial clinical diagnosis without going through the strictures of research led definitions? This is what is proposed by Robinson and colleagues1 in this issue of Gut—an outwardly simple study backed by complex prior work with IBS sufferers (see page 643).

In a randomised study, IBS sufferers were enrolled in one of three interventions: a guidebook on IBS, the booklet plus a self-help group session, or management as usual. Set in primary care, the study was pragmatic, relying on the clinicians’ own diagnosis and not stipulating any specific diagnostic criteria. The results indicated that the guidebook group did as well as the guidebook plus self-help group and both were better than care as usual. A substantial reduction in primary care consultations was achieved. Although there were no changes in symptom scores in any of the groups, both groups using the guidebook reported a reduction in perceived symptom severity.

This study poses a number of intriguing questions. Of course the guidebook was no mere handy booklet prepared by a keen clinician—it was the result …

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