Date of Award

Fall 12-8-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP)

First Advisor

Dr. Sallie Coke, PhD, APRN, C-FNP, C-PNP

Second Advisor

Dr. Dean Baker, RN, PMHCNS-BC, PhD

Third Advisor

Dr. Tasneem Bhatia, MD


Purpose: The purpose of this translational research project was to outline the healthcare problems associated with Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders and to explore the effectiveness of a gastrointestinal protocol utilized at Atlanta Center for Holistic and Integrative Medicine. The goal of this protocol is to restore digestive health with probiotics, digestive enzymes, and glutamine.

Background: Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders affect one in every four adults in the United States. These disorders encompass a variety of symptoms including diarrhea, constipation, cramping, abdominal pain, flatulence, reflux, and bloating without an identified physiological cause. There is currently no cure for Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders and treatment focuses on symptom management. The majority of those suffering from Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders are unsatisfied with their current treatment regimen leading to physical, social, and emotional distress.

Method: This prospective cohort study examined 98 adult participants with Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. Each participant was instructed to take probiotics, digestive enzymes, and glutamine daily for 8-weeks. The participants were evaluated by a virtual survey at baseline, weekly, and after 8-weeks of intervention. The pre and post-intervention surveys included age, gender, ethnicity, duration of symptoms, number of attempted treatments, weight, waist circumference, the Perceived Stress Scale, and the Gastrointestinal Quality of Life Index.

Results: A total of 86 participants completed the entire 8-week intervention. Based on the results of this study, there were three statistically significant predictors of lower gastrointestinal quality of life based on the Gastrointestinal Quality of Life. These three predictors include (1) minorities, (2) higher levels of stress based on the Perceived Stress Scale, and (3) greater than 3 attempted treatments. After the 8-week intervention, the participants had significant weight loss and improved gastrointestinal quality of life scores.

Discussion: This research study is the first to examine the combined benefits of probiotics, digestive enzymes, and glutamine. In this study, participants had significant improvements in weight loss and gastrointestinal quality of life indicating that this protocol can be an effective regimen for treating patients with Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders.