Review article: rethinking the "ladder" approach to reflux-like symptom management in the era of PPI "resistance": a multidisciplinary perspective

A.P.S. Hungin*, C. Scarpignato, L. Keefer, M. Corsetti, F. Anastasiou, J.W.M. Muris, J.M. Mendive, P.J. Kahrilas

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal(Systematic) Review article peer-review


Background Despite widespread adoption of potent acid suppression treatment with proton pump inhibitors (PPI) for reflux-like symptoms, persistent symptoms are commonly reported in primary care and community studies. Aims This multidisciplinary review critically evaluates how the management of reflux-like symptoms could better reflect their multifactorial pathophysiology. Methods A panel of experts (from general practice, gastroenterology and gastropsychology) attended a series of workshops to review current management and propose a framework for the provision of more individualised care. Results It was agreed that the perceptual (as well as the physiological) causes of reflux-like symptoms should be considered at the start of management, not as a last resort when all else has failed. A short course of PPI is a pragmatic approach to address reflux-like symptoms, but equally important is counselling about the gut-brain axis and provision of symptom-specific behavioural interventions for those who show signs of somatisation, hypervigilance or co-existing disorders of gut-brain interaction. Other low-harm interventions such as lifestyle and dietary advice, should also be better integrated into care at an early stage. Multidisciplinary care management programmes (including dietary, weight loss, exercise and behavioural intervention) should be developed to promote greater self-management and take advantage of the general shift toward the use of remotely accessed health care resources. Conclusions Management of reflux-like symptoms should be adapted to reflect the advances in knowledge about the multifactorial aetiology of these symptoms, addressing both acid-related and behavioural components early in management. The time has come to treat the patient, not the "disease".
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1492-1500
Number of pages9
JournalAlimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics
Issue number12
Early online date22 Apr 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022



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