Patient Centric App Review Series
App Reviewed: IBS Symptom Tracker
Last Updated: January 14, 2011
Compatibility: iPhone, iPad
Requires: OS 3.2 or higher required
Reviewed on: iPad
Goals of app review:
- Is the IBS Symptom Tracker app helpful to Irritable Bowel Syndrome patients who want to reduce symptoms?
- Can physicians recommend the app to patients to help them with their symptoms.
The World Gastroenterology Organization defines Irritable Bowel Syndrome as “a functional bowel disorder in which abdominal pain or discomfort is associated with defecation or a change in bowel habit. Bloating, distension, and disordered defecation are commonly associated features.”  This app, which was designed by Dr. Weinland, a Clinical Psychologist who specializes in cognitive behavioral therapy, is for tracking IBS symptoms.
The app opens with a main page from which all subsequent data entry begins. There are two pages that are for documenting symptoms.
Below is the Bowel Movement Assessment page:
The symptoms can then be sent to any email in both a graph, text and .csv form
Healthcare goals of app:
The purpose of the app is to help users discover patterns that may assist an IBS patient in better treatment of their disease.
Evidence to support goals:
Several studies suggest that Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is of benefit to patients with Irritable Bowel Syndrome [2,3]. These studies have primarily been done in tertiary institutions with intensive followup by psychologists. This app was designed with cognitive therapy in mind, by a cognitive therapist. No studies have looked at “self-tracking” or “symptom tracking” alone, without the benefit of a professional.
- $ 2.99
- Contains a good overview of the Rome III Diagnostic Criteria for Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Educational component of the app is comprehensive but not overwhelming
- This is a very simple app to use, all clicks beginning from the first page
- Emails graphs, text description and .cvs file of symptoms
- Alludes to the Bristol Stool scale but doesn’t explain it
- No update since January 2011
- No explanation as to how tracking symptoms will benefit the patient.
- Two different tracking questionnaires with overlapping symptoms but no explanation for the separate input screens
What providers would benefit from app?
- Family Practitioners
- Psychologist working trying behavioral techniques for IBS
What patient would benefit from app?
- Without overview by a physician or psychologist well-versed in IBS looking for a specific response to therapy, the reviewer sees no reason to recommend this app to patients.
- The app is designed for iPhone and iPad
- IBS Symptom Tracker documents bowel movements for the purpose of following Irritable Bowel episodes over time
- Pros – easy user interface, simple to use, attractive appearance to apps
- Cons – without inputting treatment results it is difficult to understand how the data provided would be helpful to a patient or provider
IBS Symptom Tracker appears incomplete in its present form and has not been updated since January 2011. One possible recommendation could be to use the app as a tool for tracking improvement of IBS episodes with specific therapy, be it medical or cognitive, otherwise it cannot be recommended for patient use.
1. World Gastroenterology Organisation. Irritable Bowel Syndrome: a global perspective. 2012-08-06. URL:http://www.worldgastroenterology.org/assets/downloads/en/pdf/guidelines/20_irritable_bowel_syndrome.pdf. Accessed: 2012-08-06.
2. Majid Mahvi-Shirazi. Irritable Bowel Symptom Treatment: cognitive behavioral treatment vs medical treatment. . 2012-02-29. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3309448/?tool=pubmed
3. Payne, A. A controlled comparison of cognitive therapy and self-help support groups in the treatment ofirritable bowel syndrome.J Consult Clin Psychol. 1995 Oct;63(5):779-86.
This post does not establish, nor is it intended to establish, a patient physician relationship with anyone. It does not substitute for professional advice, and does not substitute for an in-person evaluation with your health care provider. It does not provide the definitive statement on the subject addressed. Before using these apps please consult with your own physician or health care provider as to the apps validity and accuracy as this post is not intended to affirm the validity or accuracy of the apps in question. The app(s) mentioned in this post should not be used without discussing the app first with your health care provider.