State of the Art: Psychotherapeutic Interventions Targeting the Psychological Factors Involved in IBD
Daniela Leone, Julia Menichetti, Gionata Fiorino and Elena Vegni
Affiliation: Department of Health Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, San Paolo University Hospital, Via di Rudinì 8, 20142 Milan, Italy.
Keywords: Clinical psychology, Crohn's disease, inflammatory bowel disease, psychological interventions, psychological correlates,
psychotherapy, ulcerative colitis.
The present article aims to review the literature on the relationship between psychology and inflammatory
bowel disease (IBD). In particular, the first section is dedicated to explore the role of psychological factors in the etiopathology
of the disease, its development and the efficacy of treatments, while the second analyzes existing literature on the
role of psychological interventions in the care of IBD patients. Although the role of psychological factors in IBD appears
controversial, literature seems to distinguish between antecedents of the disease (stress and lifestyle behavior), potential
mediators of disease course (family functioning, attachment style, coping strategies, and illness perception), outcomes of
IBD and concurrent factors (anxiety, depression and quality of life). Four types of psychological interventions are described:
Stress management, Psychodynamic, Cognitive behavioral and Hypnosis based. Data on the role and efficacy of
psychological interventions in IBD patients show little evidence both on reduction of the disease activity and benefits on
psychological variables. Psychological interventions seem to be beneficial in the short term especially for adolescents.
The importance of considering the connections between psychology and IBD from a broader perspective reflecting the
complexity of the phenomenon at multiple levels is discussed.
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