Guidebook useful for irritable bowel patients
Patients with irritable bowel syndrome can use a self-help guidebook to reduce the number of office visits, improve symptoms and lower health care costs, a new report suggests.
The findings suggest that primary care physicians should offer patients with functional abdominal symptoms information on what they can do to manage their condition, lead author Dr. Andrew Robinson, from Hope Hospital in Manchester, UK, and colleagues report.
The researchers assessed the outcomes of 420 patients, treated at 54 primary care centers, who were randomly assigned to receive a self-help guidebook, a guidebook plus a self-help meeting, or no extra care (control group).
The guidebook provided information on lifestyle and dietary modifications, as well as pharmacologic and alternative therapies that may improve irritable bowel symptoms. The self-help meeting, which lasted two hours and was run by a trial coordinator, allowed patients to discuss their disease and the treatments they found useful.
The use of the guidebook reduced primary care consultations by 60 percent and also lessened perceived symptom severity, when compared with no self-help intervention. Actual symptom scores, however, did not change significantly with the intervention. Adding the self-help meeting provided no additional benefit.
The self-help guidebook reduced the health care costs per patient per year by 40 percent, according to the report published in the medical journal “Gut.”
The authors conclude that “the use of a self-help educational guidebook in primary care patients with functional bowel symptoms results in a clear reduction in health service utilization and costs without any deterioration in symptoms or other health outcomes.”
SOURCE: Gut, May 2006.
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