Psychotherapy and antidepressants are effective treatments for patients with severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
However, cost-effectiveness of either treatment in routine practice has not yet been established.
In this study, researchers randomly allocated patients with severe IBS to receive 1 of 3 treatments: individual psychotherapy, paroxetine (20mg daily), or routine care.
The team determined the primary outcome measures of abdominal pain, health-related quality of life, and health care costs after 3 months of treatment, and 1 year later.
Their findings are published in the February issue of Gastroenterology.
|Psychotherapy for severe IBS is associated with a significant reduction in health care costs.|
The researchers recruited a total of 257 subjects from 7 hospitals.
Of the patients randomized to the psychotherapy group 69% completed a full course of treatment, as did 50% in the paroxetine group.
The research team found that both psychotherapy and paroxetine were superior to routine care for improving health-related quality of life.
During the 1-year follow-up, psychotherapy was associated with a significant reduction in health care costs, compared with routine treatment. Costs were found to be $976 for psychotherapy, $1252 for paroxetine, and $1663 for routine treatment.
Dr Francis Creed's team concluded, "For patients with severe IBS, both psychotherapy and paroxetine improve health-related quality of life at no additional cost".