IBS is a common gastrointestinal disorder affecting 10%–20% of the population worldwide. Symptoms include abdominal pain, bloating and altered bowel habits that can significantly affect a person’s quality of life, social functioning and can even lead to time off work.
Treatment commonly relies on a positive diagnosis, reassurance, lifestyle advice including dietary changes and drug therapies.
Psychological therapies and particularly face-to-face Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) can reduce symptoms and improve quality of life by targeting unhelpful beliefs and coping behaviours but questions remain over optimum modes of delivery, adherence to therapy and longer term outcomes.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidance recommends CBT for patients with refractory IBS symptoms (ie, ongoing symptoms after 12 months despite being offered appropriate medications and lifestyle advice).