Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) lacks a clear understanding of the disease‘s pathogenesis and effective treatments thus producing frustration among providers and patients, leading to the stigmatization of the disease and the patients with the syndrome. A literature search was performed to make a hermeneutical review on empathic patient-provider communication and IBS. The relationship is defined by partners being dependent on one another in the pursuit of obtaining good outcomes. It is a unique interaction depending not only on the individual qualities of each partner but also on the specific patterns of the patient-physician synergy. Empathy is crucial for any relationship. It helps to recognize the other as the other of myself, a person like me. Meanwhile, stigmatization results from identifying and labelling human differences and stereotyping persons who are linked to undesirable characteristics. IBS is at high risk of stigmatization in various contexts and settings including health care, causing patients and physicians misconceptions and distress, which in turn leads to the worsening of the disease in patients and burnout in physicians. Narrative-based medicine helps create a holistic perspective of a patient’s problems and health, thus providing a tool for an empathic doctor-patient relationship that fosters mutual understanding and helps patients with IBS make sense of symptoms, increases their ability to manage their IBS in a psychologically flexible manner, subsequently helping them maintain their quality of life.


patient-physician relationship, empathy, stigma, irritable bowel syndrome