There is growing recognition of the seriousness and the complexity of the functional GI disorders. Yet individuals affected by these disorders still face challenges in finding adequate care. Many physicians remain unprepared to diagnose and treat patients with functional GI disorders.

Moreover, the burden of illness resulting from chronic pain or discomfort and other symptoms associated with functional GI disorders remains underappreciated by everyone it seems – except those who experience it, or those who are truly dedicated to finding solutions. 

Challenges: Making the diagnosis

Most doctors are trained to diagnose and treat conditions that they can see on examination or test. Functional GI disorders are different. This can lead to a negative or confusing patient-doctor interaction. How can this be overcome to result in a positive, practical interaction? In this video Brennan M.R. Spiegel, MD comments. Dr. Spiegel is Assistant Professor of Medicine in Residence, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System, Division of Internal Medicine, Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Los Angeles, CA.

Challenges: Understanding the Functional GI Disorders

Treating patients with functional GI disorders requires an approach to clinical medicine that is not yet well enough taught or understood. Rather than looking for a single cause, like a virus, an integration of many factors need to be considered, understood, and addressed. In this video Dr. Spiegel explains this and the basis for brain-gut interactions.

Challenges: Appreciating the Burden of Illness

Dr. Spiegel comments on the burden of illness with functional GI disorders, such as chronic abdominal pain or IBS, and the challenges to making drug treatments available for treatment of these disorders.

Challenges: The Doctor-Patient Relationship

Among physicians, interest in IBS has been slowly increasing. However, the impact of the disorder on individuals still remains unappreciated by many; the approach to treatment not well understood. For the person with IBS, finding adequate care remains a challenge. In this video, Peter Whorwell, MD offers advice to patients and doctors on overcoming these challenges and improving outcomes. Dr. Whorwell is Professor of Medicine and Gastroenterology at the University of Manchester, UK.

Challenges: Overcoming Labels in IBS

For every person, psychosocial aspects are part of daily life; they are not unique to people with functional GI disorders, like IBS. But in a culture where words like “irritable,” “bowel,” and “syndrome” carry negative associations, people with IBS are too often labeled as having a psychological disorder. Brenda Toner, PhD is Professor and Director of the Women’s Mental Health Program at the University of Toronto, Canada. A psychologist, she explains in this video that IBS is not a psychological condition and dispels some of the inaccurate and even harmful labels attached to persons with these disorders.

Challenges: Approaching Treatment

Dr. Toner has devoted many years to helping people with functional GI conditions, like IBS. In this video she explains her own therapeutic approach, which emphasizes taking the time to understand the individual’s needs and helping develop practical approaches to living better with a chronic, unpredictable disorder.   


About these videos

These interviews with IFFGD were taped at the 7th International Symposium on Functional GI Disorders held in Milwaukee, WI in April 2007.