A Randomized Trial Comparing Standard Treatment and Stress-Relieving Therapies to Improve Irritable Bowel Syndrome Symptoms

J Nurs Care Qual. 2023 Jun 2. doi: 10.1097/NCQ.0000000000000725. Online ahead of print.


Lori Lancsek 1Steven FaberCarolyn RutledgeRalitsa S MaduroMerri K MorganKathie S Zimbro


Author information

1Outer Banks Family Medicine, Kitty Hawk, North Carolina (Dr Lancsek); Albemarle Gastroenterology Associates, Elizabeth City, North Carolina (Dr Faber); School of Professional Nursing, Old Dominion University, Virginia Beach, Virginia (Dr Rutledge); Sentara Healthcare, Norfolk, Virginia (Drs Maduro and Zimbro); and Sentara Obici Hospital, Suffolk, Virginia (Dr Morgan).


Background: Abdominal pain is stressful, accounting for a large proportion of emergency and primary care visits. Clinical workups for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) are often without abnormal findings and symptoms can be severe, diminishing patients' IBS-related quality of life (IBS-QOL).

Purpose: The efficacy of stress-relieving therapies to manage IBS symptoms was explored.

Methods: Participants were randomly assigned to standard care or an intervention group (ie, walking, music, and essential oils). The IBS-QOL, gastrointestinal (GI) distress, and general health questionnaires were completed at baseline and 6-week visits.

Results: The intervention explained 20% of the variance for IBS-QOL, 19% for GI distress, and 27% for general health, after controlling for baseline scores. IBS-QOL and general health were improved, with GI distress minimized for the walking and essential oils groups.

Conclusions: Adding walking and essential oils to an established IBS treatment regimen can positively impact health and well-being.


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