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Review: soluble fibre improves overall symptoms and constipation but not abdominal pain in irritable bowel syndrome

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 Q In patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), does dietary fibre relieve symptoms?

Clinical impact ratings GP/FP/Primary care ★★★★★☆☆ IM/Ambulatory care ★★★★★☆☆ Gastroenterology ★★★★★☆☆


Embedded ImageData sources:

Medline (1966–2002) and reference lists.

Embedded ImageStudy selection and assessment:

English language randomised controlled trials (RCTs) or quasi-RCTs of dietary fibre in patients with IBS. Exclusion: studies that combined fibre and drug treatment.

Embedded ImageOutcomes:

global IBS symptoms, IBS related abdominal pain, and IBS related constipation.


17 studies (1363 patients) met the selection criteria. 9 studies used soluble fibre, and 8 used insoluble fibre. Study duration ranged from 3–52 weeks (mean 12 wks) in 16 studies; 1 study did not report duration. Studies were combined using a fixed effects model. Fibre improved overall IBS symptoms and IBS related constipation but not IBS related …

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  • For correspondence: Dr J W Muris, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.

  • Source of funding: not stated