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NUI Galway Seeks 1,000 Participants for Irritable Bowel Syndrome Study

July 17, 2017, 14:07


NUI Galway Seeks over a 1,000 women to participate in a study on how their personal psychology can influence their Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Crohn’s disease or Colitis

Researchers at the School of Psychology at NUI Galway are seeking 1,000 female participants who suffer from the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and other inflammatory bowel conditions to take part in an online study.

The symptoms of both irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease are similar, however the former is a disorder of function and the latter involves inflammation and clinical pathology. They encompass a number of gastrointestinal symptoms affecting many people. Symptoms include feeling bloated, nauseous, having diarrhoea, an urgency to go to the bathroom and pain. These symptoms generally have a significant effect on an individual’s quality of life, and can be influenced by a number of stress related variables.

In Ireland, roughly 15-20% of the population suffer from irritable bowel syndrome. Another 20,000 people suffer from one of the less common inflammatory bowel diseases, such as Colitis or Crohn’s disease, and a further 20% of those diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease have a co-morbid diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome. According to the Rome III guidelines (the diagnostic criteria for functional gastrointestinal disorders), for the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome one must experience recurrent abdominal pain or discomfort at least three times a month for the last three months. These symptoms must be associated with two or more of the following criteria: change in defecation habit, onset associated with a change in frequency of stool or onset associated with a change in form of stool.

Dr Jonathan Egan, Deputy Director of the Doctorate in Clinical Psychology at NUI Galway and board member of the MSc in Health Psychology, and a Chartered Health and Clinical Psychologist of the Psychological Society of Ireland is leading the study with Isha Doyle, a student in the MSc in Health Psychology at the University.

Dr Egan said: “Stress is known to affect the severity and possibly the direction of these diseases and things related to stress are an important focus of research attempting to improve future treatments for these conditions. We are only starting to understand how the brain-gut axis operates, and it seems that it is important for people to ‘connect with their gut reaction’ in order to be able to understand their emotions. Our research will ask people who are experiencing these symptoms or those who have Crohn’s disease or Colitis to see what psychological factors improve or worsen their experience of these conditions.

“Already an initial analysis of the first hundred or so participants has indicated a high level of people feeling misunderstood by others. The symptoms can also affect a person’s sexual expression. Many have ongoing worry about planning their day so that they can access adequate toilet facilities. High levels of fatigue, poor ability to concentrate as well as high levels of stress, anxiety and mood being affected appear to be common.”

Prospective participants can expect to answer questions related to physical symptoms they experience, and how irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease affects their quality of life in physical, emotional and social domains. Other measures will ask questions related to the participants’ relationships with certain people in their lives and whether they experience common symptoms of stress, depression or anxiety.

Isha Doyle, a student of the MSc in Health Psychology course at NUI Galway, said: “We hope to gain more information on the extent to which the stress related variables examined in this study affect symptoms and quality of life, in both irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease samples. The findings of this study will allow the prominence of one or more of these variables to be identified and, in effect, will suggest the extent to which stress management should be focused on in treatments for these conditions and the type of stress management and psychological therapies that these individuals should focus on in order to improve the success of treatments.”

To participate in the study, visit:

For further information about the MSc in Health Psychology at NUI Galway, visit:


For more information about the study contact Dr Jonathan Egan, School of Psychology, NUI Galway at or phone 086-0221839.

For Press contact Gwen O’Sullivan, Acting Press & Information Executive, NUI Galway at 091 495695 or email

About NUI Galway

The University was established in the heart of Galway City, on the west coast of Ireland, in 1845. Since then it has advanced knowledge teaching and learning, through research and innovation, and community engagement.

Over 18,000 students study at NUI Galway, where 2,600 staff provide the very best in research-led education.

NUI Galway’s teaching and research is recognised through its consistent rise in international rankings. The University is placed in the Top 250 of both the Times Higher Education (THE) World University Rankings 2016/2017 and the QS World University Rankings 2016/17.

With an extensive network of industry, community and academic collaborators around the world, NUI Galway researchers are tackling some of the most pressing issues of our times. Internationally renowned research centres based here include CÚRAM Centre for Research in Medical Devices, Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Moore Institute, Institute for Life course and Society and The Ryan Institute for Environmental, Marine and Energy.

NUI Galway has been listed as one of the most beautiful universities in Europe according to Business Insider. For more information visit or view all NUI Galway news here.

*The University's official title is National University of Ireland Galway. Please note that the only official abbreviation is NUI Galway.




Media Contacts

Gwen O'Sullivan

Press & Information Officer

091 493361

Michelle Ní Chróinín

Press & Information Officer

(091) 493 542/(087) 902 5383

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