By: Dan L. Dumitrascu, MD, PhD, Mihaela Stanculete, Adriana Farcas, and Debora Nechifor, Second Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.
Dr. Dumitrascu is the recipient of the 2003 IFFGD Research Award for International (Developing Nation) Investigator. Dr. Dumitrascu's main interests are in functional and motility gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, epidemiology, and clinical trials. He has produced over 120 papers and authored or contributed to 15 books. He authored the first Romanian book on GI manometry and was the first East European to join the Functional Brain Gut Research Group. He is also the associate editor of the Romanian Journal of Gastroenterology and a member of the editorial committees of several journals in Romania and France.
Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a disabling condition that impairs the quality of life of patients. A psychological feature called psychosocial adjustment to illness allows some patients to better cope with their illness. Psychosocial adjustment to illness can be quite significantly impaired with many chronic conditions, including IBS.
Quality of life is frequently impaired in patients with chronic gastrointestinal symptoms. The self-perception of the quality of life depends on the patients' own abilities to cope with the distress of the illness. Usually individuals who are better able to adjust to their illness perceive the quality of life as being higher.
A poor psychosocial adjustment to illness, in turn, reflects a more severe impairment of the quality of life. The adjustment to illness is impaired to varying degrees in all patients with GI illnesses including those with upper gastrointestinal symptoms, as well as IBS.
Patients with IBS showed impaired psychosocial adjustment to illness and reported worse scores in certain quality of life domains. However, the impairment of the adjustment to illness is not specific to the patients with IBS only. It seems that the impaired adjustment to illness is not a feature of gastrointestinal suffering, but is rather a consequence of chronic illness.
Poor illness adjustment also means low quality of life. The approach to patients with impaired psychosocial adjustment to illness should include work with patients as a means to help improve coping strategies.