Online Chats with Experts in Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders

Many readers of this blog may not be aware of an excellent, unique resource offered by the University of North Carolina Center for Functional GI Disorders, which is one of the most renowned centers in the United States for treatment and research of IBS and other functional GI and motility disorders.

The UNC is also known for active public outreach and education on functional GI and motility disorders and periodically hosts free, public online chats designed for people with functional GI and motility disorders. The UNC calls this series “Evening with the Experts.” These chats are usually scheduled for 2 hours. The evening begins with a video presentation by a UNC clinician and/or researcher on a previously announced topic. This portion typically lasts for 30-40 minutes. Following the video, the featured presenter. and often one or two other UNC researchers, are present to chat with the public online and in real time for the remainder of the session. Obviously, the UNC clinicians are not able to diagnose or treat individual people over the Internet, and depending on the number of participants at the chat, they may not be able to address every question. However, they can and do respond to general questions, concerns and the occasional suggestion, direct people to other general resources as appropriate, and explain their topics and cutting edge research in a respectful way that most affected people can understand, even if they are not scientists.

This is a tremendous opportunity, especially for people with IBS or their loved ones who find that their local health care providers do not explain IBS to them adequately, are not fully up to date on standards of care or research on IBS, dismiss them or their IBS, or any number of common complaints from IBSers. Many people at UNC are world authorities and pioneers in the functional GI field who see patients whose FGIMDs are the most difficult to treat, and who have lived and breathed FGIMD research every day for years. These people take time out of their own busy evenings to make themselves available at no charge to any member of the public with an Internet connection fast enough to handle video, audio and chat technology. Some fine professionals do pay attention to IBSers if we take the time to show up and speak up. Unfortunately, many past chats have been sparsely attended, and some have been cut short to less than the allotted 2 hours because of this.

Knowledge is power. If you or a loved one has one or more functional GI or motility disorders, please consider taking 2 hours of your time when a chat is offered in order to learn scientifically accurate, state of the art information that may help you or someone close to you. If you cannot attend a specific chat, many video portions are archived on the Center website, although for privacy reasons, chat transcripts are not available. That is all the more reason to be there in the first place.

The next chat, scheduled on Tuesday, August 16, 2011, from 8:00-10:00 p.m. Eastern time, is with Stephan Weinland, PhD, who will present and chat on the topic of “Psychological Treatments: CBT, Hypnosis and Stress Management.”

For this or any other chat, go to the UNC Center home page about 10 minutes before the start time, click on the chat icon, and follow the instructions there. It is not necessary to register in advance.

Before some reader objects, no, IBS is not “in our heads”, but because of the dysfunction of the brain-gut axis, many IBSers have found cognitive behavioral therapy, hypnotherapy and/or stress management helpful to them.

IBS Impact is an advocacy and awareness site, not one that focuses on treatment/management. Please make your own informed choices about your individual situation in consultation with qualified health care providers.

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