The Efficacy of Guided Imagery / Visualization & Journaling in Patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Audrey Boxwell, David Eichler, PhD


A guided-imagery/visualization and journaling protocol, as parrtof a multi-component treatment program, was tested as a treatment for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). IBS is a functional disorder of the lower gastrointestinal tract characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel habits. It has worldwide prevalence rates ranging between 9 and 23%. It is the most frequently diagnosed GI disorder in both clinical settings and the general population, accounting for an estimated 28% of patients seen by gastroenterologists and approximately 12% of those seen in primary care settings. In comparison to other diseases in the United States, IBS is more prevalent than diabetes (3%), asthma (4%), heart disease (8%), and hypertension (11 %). IBS effects an estimated 10-20% of adolescents and adults, with 14-24% incidence in females and 5-19% in males-a discrepancy that is also common to males in India and Japan and which may reflect increased healthcare-seeking behavior in women. The overall prevalence of IBS fluctuates with age; a prevalence rate of 14% occurs in individuals between 15 and 44 years old, and decreases to approximately 9% after age 45.

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