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Feasibility, Acceptability, and Preliminary Efficacy of Acceptance Commitment Therapy

Updated: Nov 6, 2023

Feasibility, Acceptability, and Preliminary Efficacy of Acceptance Commitment Therapy for Adults Living With Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Distress

Daniel Romano, Susan Chesterman, Matthew Fuller-Tyszkiewicz, Subhadra Evans, Madeleine Dober, Richard Gearry, Peter R Gibson, Simon Knowles, Andrew McCombie, Eric O, Lisa Olive, Leanne Raven, Leesa Van Niekerk, Antonina Mikocka-Walus

Published in July 2023, Inflammatory bowel diseases.


Background The bidirectional relationship between inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) flare-ups and depression/anxiety symptoms has prompted investigations into psychotherapy to improve health-related quality of life (HRQoL) by targeting depression and anxiety. Acceptance commitment therapy (ACT) is effective in improving symptoms of depression and anxiety in people with chronic diseases, yet minimal research has examined ACT’s effectiveness for IBD. This study examines the feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of the ACT for IBD program, an online program codesigned with consumers to deliver ACT to those with IBD.

Methods Adults with IBD and symptoms of mild-moderate distress were randomized to ACTforIBD or an active control (psychoeducation) condition. Participants completed 8 weekly, 1-hour sessions, 4 of which were therapist facilitated. Feasibility was based on recruitment and retention and acceptability was derived from postprogram satisfaction measures. Preliminary efficacy was determined by group differences in rate of change in study outcomes from baseline to postprogram.

Results Of 62 participants (89% women, 11% men; mean age  33 years), 55 completed the program (ACTforIBD: n = 26 [83.9%]; active control: n = 29 [93.5%]). Adherence and acceptability were high in the ACTforIBD group, with 80% of participants completing all self-directed modules and 78% of participants expressing satisfaction with the program. Significant and marginally significant group × time interactions were found for anxiety symptoms (b = -1.89; 95% confidence interval, -3.38 to -0.42) and psychological HRQoL (b = -0.04; 95% confidence interval, -0.07 to 0.01), showing decreased anxiety and increased psychological HRQoL in the intervention group.

Conclusions ACTforIBD is feasible, acceptable, and improved anxiety symptoms, and psychological HRQoL. This highlights the need for a full-scale randomized controlled trial to further examine the program’s efficacy.


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