The Potential of Integrated Nurse-Led Models to Improve Care for People With Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders: A Systematic Review

Linedale EC1, Mikocka-Walus A, Gibson PR, Andrews JM. Gastroenterol Nurs. 2020 Jan/Feb;43(1):53-64. doi: 10.1097/SGA.0000000000000379.


Author information

Ecushla C. Linedale, PhD, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia; and The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia Antonina Mikocka-Walus, PhD, Associate Professor in Psychology, Deakin University, Geelong, Victoria, Australia; and University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia, Australia. Peter R. Gibson, MD, Director of Gastroenterology, Alfred Hospital Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; and Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia. Jane M. Andrews, PhD, Medical Stream Lead Gastroenterology, General & GI Surgery, Central Adelaide Local Health Network, Adelaide, South Australia; and The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, South Australia.


Functional gastrointestinal disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome and functional dyspepsia are extremely common, debilitating, and costly. Although diagnostic guidelines and effective management options exist, management is suboptimal, with long waiting lists, delayed diagnosis, and poor patient outcomes. The aim of this systematic review was to explore and evaluate evidence for existing models of care for functional gastrointestinal disorders. Thirty-eight studies pertaining to the diagnosis or management of functional gastrointestinal disorders were found; however, only 6 investigated a full model of care. Five studies assessed a nurse-led model and 1 a structured gastroenterologist consultation. Nurse-led models were cheaper to current treatments and resulted in symptomatic improvement, high patient satisfaction, reduced healthcare usage, and improved psychosocial functioning and quality of life, whereas standard gastroenterological care did not alleviate pain or improve quality of life. There is minimal research trialing integrated models of care for the diagnosis and management of functional gastrointestinal disorders. This represents a lost opportunity for timely and effective healthcare provision to a large patient group. Although low in quality, preliminary data suggest that integrated nurse-led models of care are economically viable and may facilitate timely diagnosis and management and improve patient outcomes. Furthermore, studies to robustly evaluate the efficacy, safety, and acceptability of such models are needed.

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