Interpersonal communication apprehension, topic avoidance, and the experience of irritable bowel syndrome
JENNIFER L. BEVAN
Through the lens of the theory of inhibition and confrontation (Pennebaker, 1989), this study explored the
relationships that interpersonal communication apprehension and topic avoidance in one’s closest relationship share
with the experience of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Specifically, an online survey that studied U.S. IBS-diagnosed and non-IBS subsamples examined person–partner communication apprehension, amount of overall topic avoidance, and reasons for topic avoidance in relation to four IBS experience variables. Communication apprehension displayed a particularly strong relationship with multiple aspects of the IBS experience, and a number of the communication avoidance variables varied according to IBS diagnosis. Implications for the theoretical understanding of interpersonal communication processes in the specific context of IBS and general chronic health conditions are discussed.