Irritable Bowel Syndrome Top 10 priorities

The most important questions

  1. Are all forms of IBS the same condition, or are there different types of IBS with different causes and needing different treatments?
  2. What causes bowel urgency (a sudden urgent need to go to the toilet) in people with IBS? How is this best treated and managed?
  3. What causes pain and/or gut hypersensitivity in people with IBS, including spasms and cramps? Are there better ways to treat and manage these?
  4. Could a better understanding of the gut-brain connection in IBS lead to the development of new treatments?
  5. Do hormonal changes during the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and menopause affect IBS symptoms? If yes, could this understanding lead to new treatments?
  6. How does mental health, particularly anxiety and depression, affect IBS? Do treatments for anxiety/depression reduce or stop IBS symptoms?
  7. Are there ways for people with IBS to improve sensitivity in the bowel and/or improve control of their bowels e.g. through training with biofeedback?
  8. How can a fast and accurate diagnostic test be developed for IBS? How can different types of IBS be diagnosed more reliably?
  9. What changes in diet benefit people with IBS? Which diet is best for the long-term?
  10. Are treatments which balance the gut bacteria effective for people with IBS, including faecal transplants? Which prebiotics and probiotics are most effective?

The following questions were also discussed and put in order of priority at the workshop:

  1. What causes bloating in people with IBS and how is this best treated and managed?
  2. What are the best ways to support people with IBS in managing their condition? How can health professionals best help with this?
  3. Can accurate and reliable tests be developed to identify which foods are triggers for a person with IBS?
  4. What causes diarrhoea in people with IBS and how is this best treated and managed?
  5. Why don’t some health professionals take IBS seriously? What would help them to respond appropriately to people’s symptoms?
  6. What causes fatigue in people with IBS and how is this best treated and managed?
  7. What is the best form of follow-up care for people diagnosed with IBS including ongoing monitoring, treatment and support?
  8. Does IBS affect other parts of the body other than the gut e.g. the skin or heart?
  9. What is the best way to work out which foods trigger IBS symptoms? How can people with IBS best be supported to do this and to change their diet?
  10. Is the presence of certain gut bacteria a risk factor for IBS e.g. following the use of antibiotics?
  11. Is IBS an autoimmune disease?
  12. Which aspects of IBS treatment and care are best provided in primary (GPs and community services) and secondary care (hospitals)? How can improvements be made?
  13. Is stress or an emotional or physical trauma, either in childhood or in later life, a risk factor for IBS?
  14. What do people with IBS feel is a successful outcome from treatment /management of their condition? How can this be measured?

Document downloads

For full details of all of the questions identified by this PSP, please see the document below. 

Irritable Bowel Syndrome PSP final sheet of data