Relaxation therapy for irritable bowel syndrome: A systematic review

Seong Hi Park, Kuem Sun Han, Chang Bum Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose This study investigated evidence for the use of relaxation therapies as interventions to decrease irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms and severity as well as reduce anxiety and improve quality of life in IBS patients.

Methods A search of electronic bibliographic databases (e.g., Medline Ovid, Embase, KoreaMed, and National Discovery for Science Leaders) was conducted to identify randomized controlled trials that included relaxation exercise programs for adults (>18 years old) with IBS. Of the 486 publications identified, 8 studies met inclusion and exclusion criteria, and all studies were used in the meta-analysis. We used Cochrane's risk of bias to assess study quality.

Results The results showed that IBS symptoms decreased significantly, 6.19 (95% confidence interval [2.74, 14.02]) and there was no heterogeneity. Symptom severity and anxiety decreased by 0.38 (95% confidence interval [-1.41, 0.65]) and -0.08 (95% confidence interval [-0.38, 0.23]) due to relaxation therapies, but theses scores were not statistically significant.

Conclusion This review revealed positive effects of relaxation therapy on IBS symptoms in adult patients with IBS. However, these results should be interpreted with caution due to the small number of studies examined and the associated methodological problems. Further studies are needed to ascertain the long-term effects of relaxation therapy and the underlying psychosocial mechanisms leading to anxiety reduction and improved quality of life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)182-192
Number of pages11
JournalAsian Nursing Research
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Sept 1


  • anxiety
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • quality of life
  • relaxation therapy
  • review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)


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