[Functional gastrointestinal disorders].Wien Med Wochenschr. 2006 Aug; 156(15-16):435-40.WM
The functional gastrointestinal disorders (FGID) are the most frequent clinical conditions seen in practice. The FGID are associated with significant work absenteeism, impaired quality of life and increased medical costs. Most patients also suffer from psychosocial problems. Therefore it is important to define the patient's complaints in terms of a biopsychosocial disorder rather than just a medical illness. Physicians must acknowledge the relevance of the psychosocial aspects to prepare the patient for a referral to a specialist (in psychosomatic medicine or a psychotherapist) and to get the patient interested in the psychological factors involved as well as further explore their cause. Most of the research on psychotherapy in FGID to date has focused on the irritable bowel syndrome, and different methods of treatments have been studied (e. g., cognitive-behavioral therapy, dynamic psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and relaxation). Randomised controlled studies have shown that psychotherapy is superior to conventional medical therapy. Hypnotherapy seems to be very successful. Predictors of a positive response to psychological treatment generally are: (1) awareness that stress exacerbates their bowel symptoms, (2) mild anxiety or depression, (3) the predominant bowel symptom is abdominal pain or diarrhea and not constipation, (4) the abdominal pain waxes and wanes in response to eating, defecation, or stress rather than being constant pain, and (5) the symptoms are of relatively short duration. Psychotherapy is initially relatively expensive because it requires multiple, long sessions. However, its benefits persist or even increase over time, and in the long run, there may be a reduction in clinic visits and health care costs which offsets the initial cost of psychological treatment.