Study of irritable bowel syndrome and co-existing psychological illness

Andrew Dainty, Nick Allcock, Joanne Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Aim To assess the feasibility of using qualitative methods to explore psychological comorbidities associated with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Background IBS is a condition that often has a significant effect on quality of life. It has a high prevalence of co-existing psychological illness, which has been associated with more severe and persistent symptoms and an increased need for specialist referral. Only a small number of research studies have explored patients' perceptions and experiences of IBS, particularly when they are compounded by the presence of psychological comorbidity. Data sources Semi-structured interview methods were used to explore the patients' experiences and perceptions of IBS and co-existing psychological illness. Review methods All interview data were transcribed before conducting a thematic analysis. Discussion The paper reports the methods used to conduct a small feasibility study and discusses and justifies these methods. Methodological issues and the implications these may have on the conduct of the study are presented and critically discussed. Conclusion Important issues were identified during the design and conduct of the feasibility study relating to the quality of participant information, participant recruitment and the suitability of the proposed methods. Implications for research/practice Semi-structured interviews are suitable methods for exploring complex issues such as the psychological comorbidities associated with IBS. Further research should explore the patient perception and experience of concomitant psychological illness, which would help researchers develop effective interventions for patients with IBS.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberNR1228R1
Pages (from-to)27-31
Number of pages5
JournalNurse Researcher
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2014


  • psychological illness
  • interview methods
  • phenomenology
  • Interview methods
  • Thematic analysis
  • Hermeneutic phenomenology
  • Irritable bowel syndrome


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