Brief cognitive-behavioral internet therapy for irritable bowel syndrome

Behav Res Ther. 2009 Sep;47(9):797-802. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2009.05.002. Epub 2009 May 20.


While cognitive-behavioral therapy for IBS is quite effective, the limited availability of competent therapists and lack of access to treatment remain problematic. This paper reports on a small, randomized, controlled trial of a five week internet based cognitive-behavioral intervention for IBS with limited therapist feedback via e-mail. Fifty-four IBS patients were recruited via the internet and randomly assigned to either immediate treatment or a wait-list control group. Thirty-one subjects completed the post-treatment assessment. 77% of treatment completers also completed a 3-month follow-up assessment. Treatment completers experienced statistically and clinically significant declines in IBS symptoms and improvements in quality of life. Those gains were substantially maintained at follow-up. Treatment efficacy was partially mediated by reductions in the tendency to catastrophize the social and occupational implications of symptoms, suggesting that catastrophizing may be an important target for treatment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Catastrophization / psychology
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / psychology*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / methods
  • Psychotherapy, Brief / statistics & numerical data*
  • Quality of Life
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Therapy, Computer-Assisted / statistics & numerical data*