Patients reveal IBS management keys

April 1, 2001

Pharmaceutical Representative

Finding the right physician is the "best advice" irritable bowel syndrome patients would give to fellow IBS sufferers, according to Andover, MA-based DrugVoice's new 200-plus-question survey of over 1,700 IBS patients.

Finding the right physician is the "best advice" irritable bowel syndrome patients would give to fellow IBS sufferers, according to Andover, MA-based DrugVoice's new 200-plus-question survey of over 1,700 IBS patients.

Find the right physician

When asked about the best advice they would give a fellow sufferer, IBS patients most often responded that finding a physician who is sympathetic and will work with the patient to find the best treatment approach is of primary importance. Patients recognize that solutions must be highly customized to individual needs and symptoms, which requires an ongoing and sometimes difficult process.

Unfortunately, the survey also revealed that the majority of participants experience challenges in finding a provider who will work with them effectively throughout this process.

Stress and attitude

The second most common piece of advice patients gave involved the psychological aspects of IBS management, such as reducing stress, keeping their condition in perspective and not letting it interfere with their lives. Although this topic resonated with respondents, those treating or marketing to IBS patients must be wary of how these issues are positioned in patient communications. Too many patients report frustration and indignation with physicians who tell them "you just need to relax"; yet when communicating with each other, these same patients readily acknowledge the importance of the mind/body link.

Patients also have a lot of advice to give about specific medications or nutritional supplements that have helped them, according to the survey. Most, however, acknowledge the shortcomings of currently available medicines and the need for a trial-and-error process to find the best approach.

Marketers need to prioritize

Patients' advice to each other highlights opportunities for IBS marketers and care providers to address unmet needs and make an impact within the patient community. For example, leaders can identify many potential value-added programs - from creating physician locator services to establishing local support groups or merely providing top-quality patient education materials. Having identified such opportunities, marketers and healthcare providers must then sort through the sea of possibilities to select the few programs that will best align with both patient needs and marketing objectives. PR

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