Abstract

Cognitive flexibility improves in cognitive behavioral therapy for irritable bowel syndrome but not nonspecific education/support

Behav Res Ther. 2022 Jul;154:104033.doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2022.104033. Epub 2022 Jan 10.

 

Jeffrey M Lackner 1Gregory D Gudleski 2Christopher D Radziwon 2Susan S Krasner 2Rebecca S Firth 2Bruce D Naliboff 3Alison M Vargovich 2Ashlye B Borden 2Emeran A Mayer 3

 
     

Author information

1Division of Behavioral Medicine, Department of Medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, ECMC, 462 Grider St., Buffalo, NY, 14215, USA. Electronic address: lackner@buffalo.edu.

2Division of Behavioral Medicine, Department of Medicine, Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, University at Buffalo, ECMC, 462 Grider St., Buffalo, NY, 14215, USA.

3G. Oppenheimer Center for Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience, Division of Digestive Diseases, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, 90095-7378, USA.

Abstract

This study tested the novel hypothesis that CBT-treated IBS patients who learn to self-manage painful GI symptoms by targeting rigid cognitive style show improvement in cognitive flexibility, GI symptoms (e.g., abdominal pain), and quality of life. Participants included 130 Rome-III diagnosed IBS patients (M age = 40.3, F = 83%) with moderate-to-severe symptoms randomly assigned to either cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT; N = 86) or a nonspecific education/support (EDU) comparator (N = 44). Participants completed an assessment battery at baseline and post-treatment 2 weeks after 10-week acute treatment phase. Measures included cognitive flexibility, psychological flexibility, emotion regulation strategies, IBS symptom severity, quality of life (QOL), and distress. CBT but not EDU patients showed significant GI sympton improvement from baseline to post-treatment in cognitive flexibility. For CBT patients, changes in cognitive flexibility were significantly associated with changes in IBS symptom severity, abdominal pain, and IBS QOL. Neither condition showed significant changes in psychological flexibility (Acceptance and Action Questionnaire-II) or use of emotion regulation strategies (Emotion Regulation Questionnaire). The ability to self-manage painful IBS symptoms refractory to conventional medical and dietary treatments is related to the ability to respond flexibly across shifting contexts using cognitive change procedures featured in CBT for IBS.

 

 

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