Finding Health Care Providers for Gastrointestinal Conditions Like IBS
As many people with irritable bowel syndrome are aware, finding medical and mental health providers who are highly experienced and up to date about IBS and other functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders, as well as sufficiently aware of and empathetic about the various physical, emotional and social aspects of living with such conditions can be a challenge. Many people with mild to moderate and/or sporadic symptoms are adequately served by primary care physicians or general gastroenterologists, and IBS is one of the most common diagnoses seen by these doctors. However, those with moderate to very severe and/or constant symptoms may benefit from providers who specialize in and/or research IBS, or a more comprehensive approach that includes mental health care, professional advice on dietary modifications, or other health services. Some people with IBS are fortunate to live near a major research center for functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders or commonly overlapping, similarly complex chronic pain conditions. Most are not, and find such resources few and far between, or impractical or inaccessible because of distance, finances, insurance, inconvenient office hours, or other factors. This can be true even in major cities with multiple teaching hospitals and plentiful clinics or other resources for other chronic health conditions. Even if an individual finds one or more appropriate physicians, psychologists, dietitians, etc. in his or her area, not every professional is a good fit for every patient or client. Research shows that people with IBS tend to do better with providers whom they trust.
As such, this week, this blog highlights some of the resources offered by or suggested by reputable IBS or gastrointestinal organizations or entities in several countries where we have significant readership. Some are specific to IBS or functional gastrointestinal disorders. Some are more general.
The International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (United States)
The IFFGD care locator includes separate search functions for the United States, international and specialty, and includes a variety of professionals who have expressed an interest or specialty in functional gastrointestinal and motility disorders. These listings are submitted by the professionals themselves or suggested to IFFGD by satisfied patients. The page also includes a link to an online form to submit new professionals for consideration.
Gastrointestinal Society /Canadian Society of Intestinal Research (Canada)
The links page below includes two sections of relevance to this post. These are not necessarily specific to IBS. One is “Diet and Nutritional Information”, which, among other resources, lists Dietitians of Canada. The latter site is described as including a directory for those seeking a local dietitian. Also “How to Find a Doctor/Gastroenterologist” lists links to physician databases in each province of Canada. Scroll down the linked page below to find these sections.
The IBS Network (United Kingdom)
The links page includes two links for a Counseling Directory and Find A Therapist for U.K. residents to find accredited mental health professionals. Again, listings are not necessarily specific to expertise in psychological interventions to treat IBS, and potential patients or clients should ask the professional or his or her staff about this if it is a specific concern or goal of treatment.
Monash University Low FODMAP Diet for Irritable Bowel Syndrome blog (Australia)
This is the official blog of the researchers at Monash University who originated the low FODMAP diet as a possible management option for IBS. The November 3, 2014 post this week suggests links to dietetic associations and directories in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States.
The above resources are not meant to be an exhaustive list. Readers are invited to comment on this post and suggest possible additions, which may be added to IBS Impact links or future posts if they appear useful, reputable and evidence-based. Listing in a directory linked on this page does not imply endorsement of specific professionals by any of the IBS or gastrointestinal organizations or entities mentioned above or by IBS Impact. Please use these links only as a starting point. Consider verifying credentials, asking for references from existing medical providers or trusted relatives, colleagues or friends who may have used a local provider, interviewing a provider or his or her staff, and other means to make the most informed decisions for yourself or your family member with IBS.