Objective: Irritable bowel syndrome is a highly prevalent gastrointestinal condition that is known to be associated with maladaptive psychological coping and is extremely costly to the health-care system. Psychotherapy has been found to improve both physical and psychological symptoms in IBS. However, it is unknown whether 'no therapist' or 'minimal therapist' contact self-help psychotherapy programs are effective treatments for IBS. Thus, this paper aims to determine whether 'no therapist' or 'minimal therapist' contact self-help psychotherapy programs are effective treatments for IBS. Methods: A search of PubMed, SCOPUS, Cochrane Library, and Ebscohost research databases was conducted without language or date restriction in July 2012. Results: Nine relevant publications were included in the final review, all of which were randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and included an intervention that was primarily self-administered. It was found that 'no therapist' contact self-help programs are likely to have poor results due to lack of engagement in the program, whilst 'minimal therapist' contact programs appear to produce positive results in terms of symptom relief. Trends towards 'minimal therapist' contact self-help programs having a positive impact on quality of life (QOL) and psychological outcomes were evident. Conclusion: 'Minimal therapist' contact psychotherapy programs have the potential to reduce healthcare seeking behaviour and potentially reduce healthcare costs. However, further studies need to be conducted to confirm this effect as there is poor standardisation in the measurements of the available studies.
- Functional gastrointestinal disorders
- Irritable bowel syndrome