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The Relationship Between Daily Life Stress and Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Women with Irritable Bowel Syndrome

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Abstract

Research on irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a functional disorder of the gastrointestinal (GI) system, has linked GI symptoms to stress. This study examined the relationship between daily stress and GI symptoms across women and within woman in IBS patients (n = 26), IBS nonpatients (IBS-NP; n = 23), and controls (n = 26), controlling for menstrual cycle phase. Women (ages 20–45) completed daily health diaries for two cycles in which they monitored daily GI symptoms and stress levels. The Life Event Survey (LES) was used as a retrospective measure of self-reported stress. The across-women analyses showed higher mean GI symptoms and stress in the IBS and IBS-NP groups relative to controls but no group differences in LES scores. The within-woman analyses found a significant and positive relationship between daily stress and daily symptoms in both the IBS-NP and the IBS groups. Controlling for menstrual cycle had no substantial impact on the results.

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Levy, R.L., Cain, K.C., Jarrett, M. et al. The Relationship Between Daily Life Stress and Gastrointestinal Symptoms in Women with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. J Behav Med 20, 177–193 (1997). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025582728271

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