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March 15, 2007
recent study followed 620 patients with gastroenteritis (an infection or inflammation of the stomach area) to see if they went on to develop Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) (a more chronic bowel disorder). Researchers wanted to evaluate whether those who developed IBS had any psychological factors in common. And in fact, they did. Patients completed a psychological self-report measure when initially infected, then at 3 and 6 months. Of the 620 patients, 49 of them developed IBS - and these 49 patients also had higher perceived stress, anxiety and negative illness beliefs as compared to those who did not develop IBS. Researchers said that, "Patients who have ongoing symptoms following gastroenteritis may benefit from a simple early cognitive-behavioural intervention where they are encouraged to slowly regain levels of activity and to avoid fluctuating between overactivity and underactivity." In other words, if cognitive and behavioral factors contribute to the development of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, then Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) may be critical for helping to manage psychological aspects of the illness.