Background: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is highly prevalent and is associated with a substantial economic burden. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) has been shown to be effective in treating IBS. The aim of this study was to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of a new treatment alternative, internet-delivered CBT based on exposure and mindfulness exercises.
Methods: Participants (N = 85) with IBS were recruited through self-referral and were assessed via a telephone interview and self-report measures on the internet. Participants were randomized to internet-delivered CBT or to a discussion forum. Economic data was assessed at pre-, post- and at 3-month and 1 year follow-up.
Results: Significant cost reductions were found for the treatment group at $16,806 per successfully treated case. The cost reductions were mainly driven by reduced work loss in the treatment group. Results were sustained at 3-month and 1 year follow-up.
Conclusions: Internet-delivered CBT appears to generate health gains in IBS treatment and is associated with cost-savings from a societal perspective.