Is Your IBS Doctor Right for You?

The Importance of the Doctor/Patient Relationship in IBS Treatment

One of the most important aspects of IBS treatment is the doctor/patient relationship. Due to the many interconnections between your gut and your brain, your psychological comfort plays a large role in your ability to respond positively to treatment. Therefore it is essential that you feel that your doctor is right for you. Here are five questions you should ask yourself to make sure that you are in good hands.

Do they spend the time needed to listen to your concerns?

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Modern health care has shortened doctor visits to a maddening limited amount of time. With a functional disorder such as IBS, however, research has shown that when patients are given the time they need to discuss their concerns and theories about their condition, they have less anxiety and a greater amount of symptom improvement.

Are they warm and caring?

Research also indicates that patients who receive compassion from their physicians are more likely to experience symptom relief and improved quality of life.

Is your doctor biased against functional disorders?

Not surprisingly, many doctors prefer to treat conditions that are clear-cut and respond well to treatment. As you well know, IBS is certainly not one of those! Watch out for physicians who minimize your distress, because you have a functional disorder, where your diagnostic testing comes up negative.

Is your doctor willing to work as a team in coming up with a treatment plan?

The complexity of IBS requires both a multiprong treatment approach and flexibility in changing the form of treatment as symptoms wax and wane. Your input is vital in terms of coming up with a plan that will work for you.

Is your treatment tailored to your individual needs?

IBS comes in all shapes and sizes. Make sure that your doctor knows which symptoms are most bothersome to you and that those symptoms become a priority in the formulation of your individual treatment plan.


Drossman, D. & Norton, W. Report on the 6th International Symposium for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders 2006.

Kaptchuck, T. “Components of placebo effect: randomised controlled trial in patients with irritable bowel syndromeBMJ 2008 336:999-1003.

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