Background and Aims: There has been a growing emphasis on dietary therapies for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Furthermore, there has been an evolving evidence base for the low fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (FODMAP) diet, gluten-free diet (GFD), and lactose-free diet. This study examines the dietary approaches employed and the factors influencing dietetic decision-making for IBS interventions.

Methods: Participants, including registered dietitians and nutritionists, were recruited from diverse healthcare settings at the point of registration for the 4th Sheffield National Dietetic Gastroenterology Symposium, 2023. A 15-question online survey investigated the practices of dietitians and nutritionists in managing IBS patients, covering dietary approaches, decision-making factors, and patient education. The evidence base for different dietary interventions was provided and a follow-up survey assessed symposium attendees, views on current IBS dietary practices.

Results: Out of 731 respondents, primarily registered dietitians (93%) and females (93%), 54% spent 10-50% of clinic time on IBS. Respondents noted that a GFD (34%), low lactose (32%), and traditional dietary advice (TDA) (18%) were the most frequently used dietary interventions that patients try before seeking professional advice. Delegates were asked to rank their dietary intervention preferences pre- and post-meeting (after the evidence base had been presented): TDA pre-meeting 75% versus post-meeting 87% (p=0.04), fibre modification 59% versus 6% (p<0.0001), low FODMAP 25% versus 10% (p=0.0001), low lactose 12% versus 62% (p<0.0001) and GFD 6% to 23% (p<0.0001).

Conclusions: TDA remains the choice of diet for dietitians. After our educational event, the use of low-lactose and gluten-free diet significantly increased. Factors influencing the decision-making process were based on patient acceptability, counselling time, supporting evidence base and dietary triggers.


diet, Irritable bowel syndrome, FODMAP, gluten-free