Do you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome?

Around one in five Australians experiences the unpleasant symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) including bloating, diarrhoea, constipation, and abdominal pain. 

Statistics indicate that women are more likely than men to experience IBS, with onset most commonly occurring in early adulthood. For some people these symptoms can be so severe that it significantly impacts on their ability to function with day-to-day tasks.

IBSLa Trobe University Doctor of Clinical Psychology (Research) Candidate, Kristy Jensen, is currently studying the psychological and biological mechanisms impacting on people suffering from IBS and is currently looking for participants to take part in this totally non-invasive study.

‘An important element of this research is exploring the role of stress and stress management particularly in today’s fast-paced society and whether this has a possible causal link to IBS. 

‘Diagnosing IBS is a difficult task. Presently IBS presents with no identifiable structural abnormality, biological marker, or specific bacterial imbalance, which highlights the great need for continued research in this area. 

‘Another difficulty with the unidentified diagnostic parameters is in the inconsistent support and available treatment interventions from medical professions. IBS is still not unanimously accepted by the medical profession to be a clinical condition,’ says Ms Jensen.

Current research suggests that IBS symptoms present as a result of numerous factors. One model trying to conceptualise this is the bio-psycho-social model. Ms Jensen says this suggests that individual biology and psychological predispositions interact with social circumstances and early life events perpetuating and altering the severity or expression of symptoms.

‘Most of the research showing the interaction between psychological, social, and biological factors, and how these impact specifically on the gut, comes largely from brain-imaging techniques. 

‘These techniques have enabled us to see that the body’s stress responses affect gut mechanisms. This same research has also shown that emotional regulation and pain are processed in overlapped regions of the brain.

‘Over the long-term, the body's response to stress can negatively impact immune functioning, which can lead to autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. Unfortunately, the bio-psycho-social model does not form the basis for most research or treatment interventions. 

‘This research study attempts to take a holistic approach to profile this complex disorder, hopefully leading to more appropriate and targeted treatment interventions,’ says Ms Jensen.

Individuals with IBS, as well as control participants are needed to partake in the second phase of this study, with compensation offered. For more information or to be involved please contact Kristy Jensen, Doctor of Clinical Psychology (Research) Candidate, email: 

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Meghan Lodwick

La Trobe University Communications Officer

T:  03 9479 5353 M:  0418 495 941 E: