Behavioral medicine approaches to gastrointestinal disorders

J Consult Clin Psychol. 1992 Aug;60(4):605-12. doi: 10.1037//0022-006x.60.4.605.


Behavioral research in gastroenterology has grown exponentially over the last decade. Controlled studies demonstrate that psychotherapy, stress management, and hypnosis are effective for irritable bowel syndrome; and behavioral treatments are preferred over medical management for some types of fecal incontinence and vomiting. For peptic ulcer disease, interest in behavioral treatments has declined. However, a new syndrome, functional dyspepsia, is now recognized, in which ulcerlike symptoms occur without ulcer and frequently in association with psychological symptoms. For inflammatory bowel disease, stress management training has produced inconsistent outcomes. Newly recognized disorders for which behavioral treatments are needed include constipation associated with inability to relax the pelvic floor muscles during defecation, functional rectal pain (proctalgia), noncardiac chest pain, and aerophagia (excessive air swallowing).

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Behavior Therapy / methods*
  • Colonic Diseases, Functional / psychology
  • Colonic Diseases, Functional / therapy
  • Combined Modality Therapy
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / psychology
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / psychology
  • Psychophysiologic Disorders / therapy*