How to Find an IBS Healthcare Provider

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Do you think that you might have irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)? Or have you been diagnosed with IBS but are unhappy with your healthcare provider? When it comes to IBS, perhaps even more so than for other health problems, it is extremely important to find the right person for you. This is because research suggests that a good practitioner/ IBS patient relationship can result in a better treatment outcome. Here you will find tips for making sure that you make a good match.

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  JGI / Tom Grill / Getty Images 

What Kind of Healthcare Provider Should You See?

If your symptoms have only come upon you fairly recently, a good place to start is with your primary care healthcare provider. Because your primary care practitioner knows you, he or she can start the process of making sure you get the correct diagnosis and then devise a treatment plan. If necessary, your practitioner will refer you to a gastroenterologist, who is a practitioner that specializes in the treatment of digestive disorders for further evaluation and treatment.

If your IBS symptoms have become a chronic or severe problem and/or you feel that your primary care medical professional is limited in their ability to help you, it would be wise to make an appointment with a gastroenterologist so as to benefit from their specialized expertise in the area of digestive health.

It is very important to choose a gastroenterologist who works with a qualified dietitian as dietary intervention is often important part of the treatment plan.

How to Find a Healthcare Provider

Certainly, personal recommendations, particularly from health professionals that you trust, are the best option for finding a qualified professional. You can also ask your friends or family for a name. An additional option is to use your insurance company's database. The advantage of this approach is that you will be assured that your care from the healthcare provider you choose will be covered by your insurance.

Online Tools for Finding a Healthcare Provider

Another option for finding a healthcare provider is through the Internet. The following websites offer information that may help you to make a good match and will provide you with some basic information about each physician.

  • The American College of Gastroenterology: The American College of Gastroenterology (ACG) is an organization of healthcare professionals who specialize in working with digestive disorders. Their database will give you the names of ACG member physicians who practice in your geographical area (U.S. and Canada only).
  • International Foundation for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD): Through its "Digestive Health Alliance," the IFFGD maintains a database of professionals who have experience working with patients who suffer from functional gastrointestinal disorders such as IBS.
  • North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition: The North American Society for Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology, and Nutrition is a group of health professionals who share the mission of improving the understanding and treatment of digestive diseases in children. You do not need to fill in every box to get the search function to work. 

Mind-Body Treatment

IBS treatment may extend beyond medical healthcare providers. There are two forms of psychotherapy that have been shown to be effective in alleviating IBS symptoms: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and hypnotherapy. The following two resources can help you to find a qualified practitioner.

  • Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies: The Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies (ABCT) is an association for mental health professionals who utilize cognitive and behavioral therapy techniques. Professionals who belong to ABCT may not have specific knowledge of IBS but should have the appropriate training to apply CBT techniques to your symptoms.
  • Hypnosis Treatment Protocol: Dr. Olaf Palsson, an IBS expert associated with the University of North Carolina has put together a research-proven seven-session hypnosis treatment. (U.S. only)
6 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Halpert, A. Irritable bowel syndrome: patient-provider interaction and patient education. JCM. 2018;7(1):3-. doi:10.3390/jcm7010003

  2. American College of Gastroenterology. Find a gastroenterologist.

  3. International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders. Finding a doctor.

  4. North American Society For Pediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Nutrition. Find a pediatric Gastroenterologist.

  5. Association for Behavioral and Cognitive Therapies. Find a CBT therapist.

  6. IBS Hypnosis. U.S. health professionals offering hypnosis treatment for IBS using the standardized 7-session protocol.

By Barbara Bolen, PhD
Barbara Bolen, PhD, is a licensed clinical psychologist and health coach. She has written multiple books focused on living with irritable bowel syndrome.