Psychotherapy with chronic inflammatory bowel disease patients: a review

Inflamm Bowel Dis. 2006 Dec;12(12):1175-84. doi: 10.1097/01.mib.0000236925.87502.e0.


Two distinct factors have lead in the past to the development of several psychotherapeutic treatments for patients with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). First, clinicians and researchers believe that psychologic and somatic factors in chronic IBD, Crohn's disease, and ulcerative colitis) are connected. In addition, IBD reduces the health-related quality of life for these patients. The purpose of the psychotherapies is to influence the somatic course of the disease, the psychological state of the patients, or the patients' health related quality of life. This report evaluates the existing studies with regard to the effectiveness of psychotherapy IBD patients received in addition to medical treatment. We have identified 10 psychotherapy studies and 4 additional studies on self management and patient education on this topic. The studies significantly differ from each other in regard to psychotherapeutic methods, inclusion criteria, and outcome assessments. The results so far lead to the conclusion that psychotherapy does not have an impact on the course of the disease but, in some cases, positively influences the patient's psychologic state (such as depression, anxiety, and health related quality of life or coping with the disease). Thus, psychotherapy cannot, in general, be recommended for all patients with chronic IBD. Patients, however, that display a tendency toward psychologic problems, especially as it pertains to their illness, might profit from it.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / psychology*
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases / therapy*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Psychotherapy*
  • Treatment Outcome