Visceral Inflammation & Pain Center
The Visceral inflammation and Pain (VIP) Center of the UPMC Digestive Disorders Center integrates behavioral health services with comprehensive medical care for people with complex digestive conditions and diseases.
The VIP team provides comprehensive psychological assessments and treatments, all designed to help patients to cope with their GI diseases and life in general. The VIP Center also offers an integrated clinical research program for patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
VIP Center therapies help patients to cope with:
- Physical illness challenges
With VIP Center interventions, many patients show improved health functioning, including fewer hospital visits and reduced medication dosages. In addition, results have demonstrated decreased depression and improvements in:
- Health-related quality of life
- Social functioning
- Medical adherence
The Visceral Inflammation and Pain Center conducts clinical research on assessing and treating psychiatric symptoms/disorders in patients with Gastrointestinal Disorders. Current research initiatives to help patients with Gastrointestinal Disorders include:
- Study of chronic abdominal pain, narcotic bowel syndrome and their treatment by Dr. Eva Szigethy.
- Mindfulness- Dialectical Behavioral Group Therapy group effects in patients with chronic abdominal pain by Dr. Helen Sysko.
- Use of telemedicine (both videotherapy sessions) and innovative virtual interventions (Lantern) for gastrointestinal patients by Dr. Eva Szigethy. Lantern is a mental health wellness tool for anxiety/stress management.
- Evaluating sleep and fatigue and treatment with therapy and psychopharmacology in young adults with inflammatory bowel disease by Dr. Szigethy
- Changing health care delivery using new models of care which incorporate psychosocial/behavioral care by Drs. Szigethy and Regueiro
- Use of novel remote monitoring apps to improve communication between patients and providers (PCORI grant using HealthPROMISE).
- Determining neuroinflammatory pathways underlying anhedonia in patients with active Crohn’s disease using infliximab and cognitive behavioral therapy as mechanistic probes by Drs. Szigethy and Lotrich.
- Evaluating predictors of suicidality in patients with IBD by Drs. Szigethy and Al Hashash.
Visceral Inflammation & Pain team members include:
- Helen Bittman Sysko, PhD – Psychotherapist, Director
- Eva M. Szigethy, MD, PhD – Founder, VIP Center and Psychiatrist
- Therezia Al Choufete, RD
- Emily Weaver, MSW, LSW – Social Worker