A team of researchers and clinicians from Oxford University’s Department of Experimental Psychology and the Oxford Mindfulness Centre have developed a new 6-week MBCT course tailored specifically for participants with IBS. Building on insights from previous work at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre and elsewhere, the team has taken clinical insight and new scientific findings to design this course.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a chronic gastrointestinal disorder characterized by abdominal pain and altered bowel function. It is a very complex illness and psychological factors like stress can make the symptoms worse. Approximately 10-15% of the UK population suffer from IBS, creating demand for effective and safe treatment options.

The MIBS research project is currently evaluating if and how the mindfulness course improves symptoms, and psychological wellbeing in a pilot study (a randomized clinical trial). With this study the aim is to provide much-needed experimental insights into how the practice of meditation can lead to actual symptom improvement for IBS sufferers, shedding light on both the relationship between mind and body in IBS and the way mindfulness meditation works.

Eligible participants have been offered a place on a Mindfulness for IBS course held at the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. In addition to participating in the course, participants also complete assessments of symptom severity, psychological wellbeing and cognitive functioning before, during and after the course. In collaboration with researchers from the Pain Group of the Oxford Centre for Functional MRI of the Brain, participants have been invited to have brain scans taken before and after the course. This will give crucial insights into the way mindfulness may act on pain perception.

The trial is currently in the last phase and results are expected mid to late 2017.