Researchers from the Department of Clinical Neuroscience of the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden conducted a follow-up of a previously reported study of internet-delivered cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), based on exposure and mindfulness exercises (Ljótsson et al. (2010) Internet-delivered exposure and mindfulness based therapy for irritable bowel syndrome - a randomized controlled trial. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 48, 531-539).

Seventy-five participants from the original sample of 85 (88%) reported follow-up data at 15-18 months (mean 16.4 months) after completing treatment. The follow-up sample included participants from both the original study's treatment group and waiting list after it had been crossed over to treatment.
 
Intention-to-treat analysis showed that treatment gains were maintained on all outcome measures, including IBS symptoms, quality of life, and anxiety related to gastrointestinal symptoms, with mainly large effect sizes (within-group Cohen's d=0.78-1.11).

A total of fifty participants (59% of the total original sample; 52% of the original treatment group participants and 65% of the original waiting list participants) reported adequate relief of symptoms. Improvements at follow-up were more pronounced for the participants that had completed the full treatment and maintenance of improvement did not seem to be dependent on further treatment seeking.

This study suggests that internet-delivered CBT based on exposure and mindfulness has long-term beneficial effects for IBS-patients.

Citation:  Ljótsson B, Hedman E, Lindfors P, Hursti T, Lindefors N, Andersson G, Rück C. Long-term follow-up of internet-delivered exposure and mindfulness based treatment for irritable bowel syndrome. Behav Res Ther. 2011 Jan;49(1):58-61. Epub 2010 Oct 31. [email protected]