Douglas Drossman, MD and Johannah Ruddy, M.Ed

Health and Wellness, Gastrointestinal Symptoms & Disorders, Communication & the Patient/Doctor Relationship

Douglas A. Drossman MD and Johannah Ruddy, M.Ed are the medical duo behind the book Gut Feelings: Disorders of Gut-Brain Interaction and the Patient-Doctor Relationship



Dr. Drossman is trained in gastroenterology and psychiatry and was the founder and co-director of the Center for Functional GI and Motility Disorders at the University of North Carolina. He is an internationally recognized scientist, clinician, and educator in DGBIs and communication skills training. He has written over 500 peer-reviewed scientific articles, published 15 books, and was awarded numerous federal research grants. He is the founder, former president, and current COO of the Rome Foundation. As president of DrossmanCare, he produces educational videos and develops workshops and training programs in communication skills.  His internationally recognized gastroenterology practice receives patients with difficult-to-diagnose and manage DGBIs.

Mrs. Ruddy is a patient and patient advocate with a background in education and a career in non-profit management. As Executive Director of the Rome Foundation, she coordinates operations and educational programs. With DrossmanCare, Mrs. Ruddy facilitates workshops in patient-centered care and is a simulated patient in videos on communication skills. Mrs. Ruddy can articulate her experiences in a way that educates doctors and motivates patients to self-actuate and assume responsibility in their care. In this regard, her social media presence is well recognized, and she has published four peer-reviewed articles in scientific journals on patient advocacy and the importance of the patient perspective in medical education.

Your biggest literary influencers

Doug: George Engel, Malcolm Gladwell, Stephen Hawking, Eric Topol.  

Johannah: Jane Austen, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Glennon Doyle

Last book read:

Doug: Eric Topol’s The Patient Will See You Now

Johannah: Last Year in Havana by Chanel Cleeton

The book that changed your life: 

Doug: George Engel, Interviewing The Patient. Dr. Engel was my mentor and his work on communication skills and the biopsychosocial model defined my 45 years of research, teaching and clinical practice.

Johannah: Glennon Doyle’s book Untamed. This book empowered me to be my true, authentic self, feel confident in my role as a woman and helped me to understand how my past upbringing can serve as lessons to shape the future that will serve me and my family.  

Your favorite literary character: 

Doug: Not sure!

Johannah: Daisy from The Great Gatsby

Currently working on:

We are currently developing a second book that will tell the stories from patients. We will ask them to discuss their illness journey and will provide commentary from the physician and patient advocate perspectives. 

Words to live by: 

Doug: “It’s not what you do, but how you do it that makes the difference.”

Johannah: “First the pain, then the rising” — Glennon Doyle

Advice for aspiring authors: 

Doug: Generate your writing from your inner experiences.

Johannah: Write what you are passionate about, be honest and if possible, write with someone who you really admire.


“The credibility of the authors is impeccable. Dr. Drossman’s entire career, often mediated via his efforts through the Rome Foundation, has been devoted to providing the research and conceptual basis for a remarkable evolution in U.S. medicine: DGBI are the most completely described biopsychosocial disorders. This not only helps patients and practitioners but also guides the remainder of medicine in this new direction. Just as compelling is Ms. Ruddy’s personal story as a patient with IBS and how she suffered profoundly until treated by someone who understood the biopsychosocial model.”

— Robert C. Smith, MD, MACP

“Gut Feelings is a must-read for any medical or psychology student working in direct patient care. Dr. Drossman and Ms. Ruddy have created a valuable tool for all readers navigating the healthcare system, in particular gastroenterology and psychiatry, that will be useful for all in the years to come. As a chronic illness patient, I wish I would have had this guide at the beginning of my journey!

— Lesley Isaacs, Patient

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