Connecting Our Gut Feeling and How Our Gut Feels: The Role of Well-being Attributes in Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Farhadi A1, Banton D2, Keefer L3. J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2018 Apr 30;24(2):289-298. doi: 10.5056/jnm17117.

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1 Section of Gastroenterology and Nutrition, University of California, Irvine, CA, USA.

2 Janssen Research and Development, Spring House, PA, USA.

3 Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Division of Gastroenterology, New York, NY, USA.


BACKGROUND/AIMS: There is a close relationship between the mind and gut in the pathogenesis of functional bowel disorders. Common psychological disturbances such as depression and anxiety are not uncommon in those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). There is little research investigating the role of positive psychology and gastrointestinal (GI) conditions. In this pilot study we investigated the well-being attributes in those with and without IBS.

METHODS: We used an anonymous online survey and recruited 416 study subjects using social media as the main method of recruitment. We gathered demographic information, GI symptoms, history of mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, assessed several well-being attributes, and finally assessed subjective well-being. We hypothesized that those with GI symptoms and IBS have lower scores in their well-being attributes compared to healthy controls.

RESULTS: We observed that a history of anxiety and depression is significantly associated with GI symptoms and IBS. In addition, sense of subjective well-being and several well-being attributes are negatively associated with GI symptoms and/or IBS. Of interest, the household income showed a negative correlation with the prevalence of GI symptoms and IBS.

CONCLUSIONS: Subjective well-being, and several well-being attributes that contribute to the sense of overall contentment, are negatively associated with GI symptoms and IBS. The link between subjective well-being, and GI symptoms and IBS are independent of anxiety and depression. Well-being attributes and sense of subjective well-being may be a contributory factor in clinical expression of GI symptoms or IBS consistent with the biopsychosocial model of the disease.

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