The lived experience of irritable bowel syndrome: A focus on dietary management

Aust J Gen Pract. 2022 Jun;51(6):395-400. doi: 10.31128/AJGP-07-21-6080.


Lauren P Manning 1Caroline J Tuck 2Jessica R Biesiekierski 3


Author information

1MDietPrac, Accredited Practising Dietitian, Department of Rehabilitation, Nutrition and Sport, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Vic.

2PhD, Accredited Practising Dietitian, Lecturer and Early Career Research Fellow, Department of Rehabilitation, Nutrition and Sport, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Vic.

3PhD, Registered Nutritionist, Senior Lecturer and Researcher, Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food, Monash University, Melbourne, Vic.


Background: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disorder of the gut-brain axis with a prevalence of 3.5% in Australia. The complexity of mechanisms underlying IBS means patients often respond poorly to treatment. There is encouraging evidence for the successful use of dietary strategies for short- and long-term management of IBS.

Objective: The aim of this narrative review was to explore the lived experience of IBS from the patient perspective with emphasis on dietary involvement and diet management of the condition.

Discussion: There are a number of dietary constituents implicated in IBS, and patients' main concerns are the trial-and-error nature of identifying triggers, uncertainty regarding food choices and reduced enjoyment of food. Despite this, dietary modifications are accepted by patients and healthcare professionals (HCPs) as an efficacious management strategy. A meaningful relationship with their HCP can improve patient adherence, treatment success and overall satisfaction for patients.


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