Defense mechanisms and alexithymia in Inflammatory bowel disease and Irritable bowel disease

Vittorio Lenzo, Maria C. Quattropani


Objectives: This study aimed to examine the differential contribution of demographic and medical characteristics on severity of gastrointestinal symptoms in a sample of patients with IBS or IBD. In a sample of outpatients with gastrointestinal disorders. In addition this study aimed to explore the role of alexithymia and defense style on gastrointestinal symptoms. Methods: The participants consisted of 65 outpatients with an IBS or IBD diagnosis who completed a demographic questionnaire, the Toronto Alexithymia Scale – 20 (TAS-20), the Defense Style Questionnaire (DSQ), and the Gastrointestinal Symptom Rating Scale (GSR). Results: ANOVA showed no significant effect of specific diagnosis on the severity of gastrointestinal symptoms. Results of MANCOVA showed that there was a significant multivariate effect of gender with female scoring significantly higher than males on severity of intestinal symptoms. Other variables such as age, level of education, years since diagnosis did not reach a significance on the dependent variables. In addition the defense style defined “maladaptive” had a significant effect on dyspeptic symptoms. Conclusions: Our results have shown the influence of the maladaptive defense style on the severity of symptoms with no differences for the three considered diagnosis. Moreover they are coherent with past studies highlighting the risk for the female gender to develop a somatic disease.

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