The Role of Resilience in Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Other Chronic Gastrointestinal Conditions, and the General Population

Colleen H. Parker, Bruce D. Naliboff, Wendy Shih, Angela P. Presson, Lisa Kilpatrick, Arpana Gupta, Cathy Liu, Laurie A. Keefer, Jenny S. Sauk, Robert Hirten, Bruce E. Sands, Lin Chang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Background & Aims: Resilience is the ability to adapt positively to stress and adversity. It is a potential therapeutic target as it is reduced in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) compared to healthy controls and associated with worse symptom severity and poorer quality of life. The aim of this study was to examine if these findings are generalizable by comparing resilience between IBS versus the general population and other chronic gastrointestinal (GI) conditions. Methods: Participants in the general population completed an online survey containing questionnaires measuring demographics, diagnosis of IBS and other GI conditions, symptom severity, psychological symptoms, resilience, and early adverse life events (EALs). IBS was defined as having a physician diagnosis of IBS and/or meeting Rome criteria without co-morbid GI disease. All others were included in the general population group. The chronic GI conditions group included those with inflammatory bowel disease, celiac disease and/or microscopic colitis. Results: Resilience was lower in IBS (n = 820) than the general population (n = 1026; p < 0.001) and associated with worse IBS symptom severity (p < 0.05). Global mental health affected resilience differently in IBS compared to the general population (all p's < 0.05). EALs were associated with decreased ability to bounce back from adversity in both IBS and the general population (p < 0.001). Resilience scores were similar in IBS and other chronic GI conditions that present with similar symptoms. Conclusions: Resilience is lower compared to the general U.S. population but does not appear to be specific to IBS as it is comparable to other chronic GI conditions. Low resilience negatively affects symptom severity and mental health and thus, may serve as a novel therapeutic target.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2541-2550.e1
JournalClinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number12
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Celiac Disease
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • Resilience


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