Anxiety in close relationships is higher and self-esteem lower in patients with irritable bowel syndrome compared to patients with inflammatory bowel disease
OPEN European journal of internal medicine | 19 Dec 2012
M Bengtsson, K Sjöberg, M Candamio, A Lerman and B Ohlsson
BACKGROUND: Previous research has suggested an interaction between personality factors and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) as well as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). We therefore aimed to elucidate differences in psychological and coping functioning between patients with IBD and IBS, and to assess the relationship of disease activity with these functions. METHODS: Seventy-four patients with IBD (mean age 43±17years, range 18-82years) and 81 patients with IBS (mean age 37±12years, range 21-66years) completed the questionnaires; Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale, Toronto Alexithymia, Experiences in Close Relationships, and Sense of Coherence. Disease activity was evaluated either by the Harvey-Bradshaw index, the Simple Clinical Colitis Activity Index, or the Visual Analogue Scale for Irritable Bowel Syndrome. RESULTS: The study revealed that patients with IBS had higher degree of anxiety in close relationships than patients with IBD (p=0.003), and lower self-esteem (p=0.001). No other statistical differences between the whole groups IBS and IBD or between subgroups were seen. CONCLUSIONS: The fact that patients with IBS seem to have higher levels of anxiety in relationships and lower self-esteem could influence the way the patient deal with the disease and how the communication with health care professionals works out. A higher awareness of the importance of past negative life events should be taken into consideration. Whether the disease or the personal traits are the primary event should be addressed in future research.
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