Individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are more likely to miss work (absenteeism), have reduced work effectiveness (presenteeism) and experience activity impairment. This study compared the effect of a comprehensive self-management (CSM) intervention program (incorporating cognitive behavioral therapy, diet education and relaxation) versus usual care on work- and activity-impairments in adults with IBS. This secondary data analysis used daily diaries and Work Productivity and Activity Impairment in Irritable Bowel Syndrome (WPAI-IBS) questionnaire data collected at baseline, 3, 6 and 12 months post-randomization from 160 adults with IBS. Mixed-effects modeling was used to compare the effect of CSM versus usual care on work- and activity-related outcomes. The effect of CSM was shown to be superior to usual care in improving WPAI-IBS and diary-measured presenteeism, overall work productivity loss and activity impairment with sustained effects up to 12 months post-randomization (all p < 0.05). Moreover, the CSM intervention was found to be particularly beneficial for IBS patients with greater baseline work and activity impairments (all p < 0.05). The CSM intervention may bring benefits to individuals and society through improving symptoms and reducing presenteeism associated with IBS.
Keywords: functional gastrointestinal disorder; occupational rehabilitation; work productivity loss.