A new study published in journal The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology reports that hypnotherapy might help relieve irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) complaints for as long as 9 months after the end of treatment.
The findings suggest that group hypnotherapy is as effective as individual sessions, which could enable many more patients with IBS to be treated at a reduced cost.
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Olafur Palsson and associates and his associates conducted a first of its kind trial in primary care settings where the vast majority of IBS patients are treated. The IMAGINE study recruited 354 adults (aged 18-65 years) with irritable bowel syndrome who were referred by primary care physicians and hospital specialists to 11 hospitals across the Netherlands between May 2011 and April 2016. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either 45-minute individual sessions (150 patients) or group sessions (150) of hypnotherapy twice weekly for 6 weeks, or education and supportive care (54).
The study found that irritable bowel syndrome patients undergoing hypnotherapy reported a greater overall improvement in their condition and were more able to cope with, and were less troubled by, their symptoms compared with those who received educational supportive therapy. However, hypnotherapy did not appear to reduce the severity of symptoms.
After 3 months of treatment, adequate relief of IBS symptoms was reported by more patients who received individual (40%) and group hypnotherapy (33%) than those given education and supportive care (17%), and these benefits persisted at 9 months follow-up.
“Our study indicates that hypnotherapy could be considered as a treatment option for patients with IBS, irrespective of symptom severity and IBS subtype,” says Dr. Carla Flik from the University Medical Center Utrecht, Netherlands, who led the research. “It is also promising to see that group hypnotherapy is as effective as individual sessions, which may mean that more people could be treated with it at lower cost, should it be confirmed in further studies.
IBS affects around 1 in 5 people worldwide and is a persistent and difficult-to-treat condition, with symptoms that can seriously affect the quality of life including abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation. For many sufferers, drug and dietary treatments are not successful.
“More research will be needed to test the optimum number of hypnotherapy sessions, the effect that patient expectations may have on treatment outcome, and the extent to which hypnotherapy outcomes are influenced by the magnitude of the psychological complaints of the patient, “write the authors.
For reference log on to https://doi.org/10.1016/S2468-1253(18)30344-3