The following is a summary of “Psychosocial and Sensory Factors Contribute to Self-Reported Pain and Quality of Life in Young Adults with Irritable Bowel Syndrome” published in the October 2022 issue of Pain Management by Chen et al.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) has been clustered using psychosocial and sensory characteristics such as anxiety, sadness, and pressure pain threshold to explain chronic symptoms. The effects of psychosocial, sensory variables on pain interference and quality of life (QOL) in this cohort were investigated. Their study was a cross-sectional examination of randomized controlled trial baseline information. In the Northeastern United States, at 2 gastrointestinal clinics, in the surrounding communities, and on the 2 main campuses of a public university.  About 80 young adults (mean age 21 ± 2.57 years; 76.25% women) suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.

Anxiety, sadness, exhaustion, cognitive or general concerns, sleep disturbance, self-efficacy, coping, and food intake were examined alongside demographic and psychological characteristics. Mechanical, heat, and pressure pain thresholds were measured by quantitative sensory testing. The quality of life (QOL) and functional impairment  associated with IBS were evaluated with self-reported pain as defined by the brief pain inventory (BPI). The parameters linked to IBS discomfort and quality of life were investigated by regression analysis and mediation analysis. Pain interference was strongly related to age, sex, and psychosocial characteristics such as coping, self-efficacy, alcohol use, mechanical pain sensitivity, and cold pain threshold (all P<0.05). 

Positive associations between coping, self-efficacy, and IBS-QOL were seen (all P< 0.05). Fatigue was found to be a mediator between coping catastrophizing and IBS-QOL. Self-reported pain and quality of life among young adults with IBS are highly correlated with psychosocial aspects, including coping and self-efficacy, as well as factors from quantitative sensory testing. This exploratory study emphasizes the need for future interventional research that targets individualized psychosocial and quantitative sensory aspects to enhance pain management and quality of life in IBS patients.