Research: BOYCE and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 97


BOYCE and colleagues, Department of Psychological Medicine, University of Sydney, Nepean Hospital, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia, present the results of a randomized controlled trial of cognitive behavioural therapy, relaxation training, and routine clinical care for irritable bowel syndrome IBS.


Psychological treatments are considered to be useful in the treatment of IBS. The hypothesis underlying this trial was that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) would be more efficient than relaxation training, which would in turn be more efficient than routine clinical care.


105 patients with IBS were recruited and randomly divided into three groups. Patients with resistant IBS were not included. The groups all received standard care, with one group receiving CBT and a second group receiving relaxation training in addition, for 8 weeks. Outcome measures were taken at follow-up after one year.


The severity of IBS symptoms showed no statistically significant differences between the three groups although they all showed a significant improvement over time. Significant improvements were also found in the physical functioning, general health, vitality, and social functioning scales of the SF-36 questionnaire, again with no differences between the three groups. There were reductions in anxiety, depression, and locus of control scales, also with no differences between treatment and control groups.


CBT and relaxation therapy seem not to be superior to standard clinical care for IBS.


Boyce PM, Talley NJ, Balaam B, Koloski NA, Truman G. A randomized controlled trial of cognitive behavior therapy, relaxation training, and routine clinical care for the irritable bowel syndrome. The American Journal of Gastroenterology 98 (10): 2209-2218, Oct 2003.

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