Jeffrey Lackner, PsyD,
Jeffrey Lackner, PsyD

 P506 Understanding Gender Differences in IBS: The Role of Stress From the Social Environment

Author insight from Jeffrey Lackner, PsyD, University at Buffalo, SUNY, Buffalo, NY

What’s new here and important for clinicians?

  • IBS is a painful, disabling GI disorder that affects some 40 million Americans and is one of the most common disorders seen by gastroenterologists and primary care physicians.
  • While women are twice as likely to have IBS, it still affects 10 million males about whom little is known.
  • Research exploring the different ways that males and females experience IBS can lead to more targeted and effective treatments for all sufferers but this has been difficult because studies have largely excluded males.
  • Data upon which this study is based comes from a landmark NIH-funded study lead by the University at Buffalo that is one of the few to systematically assess both male and female IBS patients with more severe GI symptoms.
  • While males did not differ from females in terms of digestive health and well-being, males reported more interpersonal difficulties, specifically receiving less support from others and more interpersonal problems. Male patients also described themselves as having limited affection and somewhat detached from others and a tendency to dominate interpersonal .relationships.
  • Gastroenterologists, but not patients, associated interpersonal difficulties with more severe IBS symptoms.

What do patients need to know?

  •  The ways that patients interact with others may impact their physicians’ understanding of the severity of IBS symptoms and the quality of the physician-patient relationship.
  • Patients who have a domineering and distant interpersonal style may need to work more closely with their gastroenterologists to arrive at a shared understanding of the nature of GI symptoms, their severity and their impact so that they get the most out of treatments and the doctor-patient relationship.

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Author Contact
Jeffrey Lackner, PsyD, University at Buffalo, SUNY, Buffalo, NY

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