BACKGROUND: Hypnotherapy has been reported as being beneficial in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). We aimed to test the hypothesis that patients with IBS treated 'holistically' by hypnosis (i.e. by combined psychological and physiological symptom imagery) would have greater improvement in their IBS symptoms than patients treated by hypnosis using standard 'gut-directed' hypnotherapy, and both would be superior to simple relaxation therapy.
METHODS: Patients (n = 51) with Rome II criteria were randomised to 'individualised' (holistic) hypnotherapy, standard 'gut-directed' hypnotherapy or relaxation therapy for a period of 11 weeks with two follow-up assessments at 2 weeks and at 3 months after the completion of the trial. The primary outcome was bowel symptom severity scale (BSSS).
RESULTS: All the participants in this study improved their IBS symptoms (pain, bloating, constipation and diarrhoea) and physical functioning at the end of the treatment from baseline, but this was not significantly different across the treatment arms.
CONCLUSION: Neither 'individualised' nor 'gut-directed' hypnotherapy is superior to relaxation therapy in IBS.
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- irritable bowel syndrome
- randomised trial