New UNC “Expert Update” Monthly Educational Series for Patients Returns with “IBS and Stigma,” October 2014

The University of North Carolina Center for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders has just announced the return of its free monthly online educational series. This series allows people affected by functional GI and motility disorders to ask questions of and give feedback to leading professionals in the field associated with UNC and other research centers. Similar to the highly regarded UNC “Evening With the Experts” chat series which was discontinued in late 2012,  each month, UNC will post a video presented by an expert in a specified topic and area of research. This video will generally be approximately 30-40 minutes in length. Following the video, viewers will be able to submit questions directly to the researcher through the UNC Expert Update page for up to 7 days after initial posting.  Selected questions of general interest will be answered online shortly afterward so that all participants may be able to learn from them.

Unlike the previous UNC educational endeavor, the new video series will not be live chat and will not be scheduled online for a specific evening. These changes were made in the hope of increasing access to FGIMD-affected people and families who might not be able to commit to attending a specific date and time, as well as providing more flexibility for the professionals involved.  The basic format for this exciting resource is unchanged.

The first monthly topic posted today, Friday, October 3, 2014, is “IBS and Stigma: Do People with IBS Experience a ‘Spoiled Identity’? is presented by Tiffany Taft, PsyD, Clinical Research Associate at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Center for Psychosocial Research in GI Disorders and Co-Director of Oak Park Behavioral Medicine, LLC, both in the Chicago area. Stigma is one of Dr. Taft’s research interests, for which she also authored a guest post on this blog on April 15, 2013. Her own blog, “Mind Your Body,” co-authored with her co-director at Oak Park Behavioral Medicine, Stephanie Horgan, LCSW, can be found in the blogroll links on the right sidebar of this page.

Expected upcoming topics and tentative dates are also available. Please check back on the UNC Expert Update page linked above for the specific videos or any changes on those dates.

  • November 14: “What Parents Need to Know about Abdominal Pain in Children” presented by Miranda van Tilburg, Ph.D.
  • December 12: “Causes and Treatments for Chronic Constipation” presented by William Whitehead, Ph.D. & Guiseppi Chiarioni, M.D.

Obviously, the professionals involved are not able to diagnose or treat individual people over the Internet, and depending on the number of and types of questions they receive, 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 and unique 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 IBS community. Many people at UNC or other collaborating research centers, 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 schedules to make themselves available at no charge to any member of the public with an Internet connection fast enough to handle video and audio technology. Some fine professionals do pay attention if we take the time to speak up. Knowledge is power. If you or a loved one has one or more functional GI or motility disorders, please consider taking less than an hour of your time when a topic  is offered in order to learn scientifically accurate, state of the science information that may help you or someone close to you.

IBS Impact welcomes the return of UNC’s high quality public education efforts and thanks the series producer, Dr. Olafur Palsson, his colleagues at UNC and all of the participating experts for their long and ongoing commitment to functional gastrointestinal and motility disorder research, awareness and support of those of us who live with IBS and/or other functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders.


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