Objective: Education and reassurance are proposed to be of great importance in the management of patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but few trials supporting this are available. Our aim was to compare the effects of a structured patient group education (IBS school) versus receiving written information in the form of an IBS guidebook, on knowledge, symptoms, and quality of life in IBS patients.
Methods: Patients with IBS according to the Rome II criteria were randomized to participate in the group education or to receive the guidebook. The effects were evaluated by self-administered questionnaires at 3 and 6 months after baseline.
Results: One hundred and forty-three patients - 71 in the guidebook group and 72 in the IBS school group - completed the study. Compared with the guidebook group, the patients in the education group showed greater reduction in IBS symptom severity and gastrointestinal (GI)-specific anxiety, as well as greater improvement in perceived knowledge of IBS. Several aspects of health-related quality of life were significantly improved after the group education, but not in the group who received the written information.
Conclusion: A structured patient group education is superior to written information to enhance knowledge of IBS, and improve GI symptoms and GI-specific anxiety in IBS patients.