Interpersonal relationships for patients with irritable bowel syndrome: A qualitative study of GPs' perceptions

Katie Crocker, Anna Chur-Hansen, Jane Andrews

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    4 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common functional gastrointestinal disorder and general practitioners (GPs) are in the front line of care. Supportive interpersonal relationships are integral to successful management and prognosis of IBS. Yet GPs' perceptions of helping patients manage interpersonal problems are unknown. Method: Thirteen GPs (3 women, 10 men) participated in semi-structured interviews. The data were analysed thematically. Results Three main themes were identified. Most GPs had not actively considered that living with IBS could contribute to patients' interpersonal problems. GPs viewed interpersonal relationships as potentially triggering or exacerbating IBS symptoms. Their approach was to proactively identify interpersonal problems in order to manage the related symptoms. Discussion IBS is a chronic illness that is difficult to manage for patients and doctors alike. Recognising the potential interpersonal impact of IBS and referring patients to appropriate services where necessary could improve patient health outcomes as well as the doctor-patient relationship.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)805-810
    Number of pages6
    JournalAustralian Family Physician
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - Nov 2013


    • General practitioners, interview
    • Interpersonal relationships
    • Irritable bowel syndrome
    • Qualitative research


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