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The ties that bind: perceived social support, stress, and IBS in severely affected patients.

Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2010 May 12;

Authors: Lackner JM, Brasel AM, Quigley BM, Keefer L, Krasner SS, Powell C, Katz LA, Sitrin MD

Abstract Background This study assessed the association between social support and the severity of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms in a sample of severely affected IBS patients recruited to an NIH-funded clinical trial. In addition, we examined if the effects of social support on IBS pain are mediated through the effects on stress. Methods Subjects were 105 Rome II diagnosed IBS patients (F = 85%) who completed seven questionnaires which were collected as part of a pretreatment baseline assessment. Key Results Partial correlations were conducted to clarify the relationships between social support and clinically relevant variables with baseline levels of psychopathology, holding constant number of comorbid medical diseases, age, gender, marital status, ethnicity, and education. Analyses indicated that social support was inversely related to IBS symptom severity. Social support was positively related with less severe pain. A similar pattern of data was found for perceived stress but not quality of life impairment. Regression analyses examined if the effects of social support on pain are mediated by stress. The effects of social support on bodily pain were mediated by stress such that the greater the social support the less stress and the less pain. This effect did not hold for symptom severity, quality of life, or psychological distress. Conclusions & Inferences This study links the perceived adequacy of social support to the global severity of symptoms of IBS and its cardinal symptom (pain). It also suggests that the mechanism by which social support alleviates pain is through a reduction in stress levels.

PMID: 20465594 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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