Hypnotherapy could relieve irritable bowel syndrome symptoms


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Findings from a new trial have prompted researchers to suggest that hypnotherapy should be considered as a possible treatment for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in primary and secondary care. 

The multicentre randomised controlled IMAGINE trial included 354 adults (aged 18-65 years) with IBS who were referred to 11 hospitals across the Netherlands between May 2011 and April 2016. Participants were randomly assigned to receive either six 45-minute individual sessions (150 patients) or six group sessions (150) of hypnotherapy, or education and supportive care (54). 

The study found hypnotherapy was more effective at relieving self-reported symptoms than control at three months (odds ratio [OR] 2.9; 95% CI 1.2-7.4; P=.0240) and 12 months (OR 2.8; 95% CI 1.2-6.7; P=.0185). Hypnotherapy delivered in a group format was non-inferior to individual hypnotherapy. 

"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. 

The research is published in the Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology