Two research teams investigated the impact of hypnotherapy on quality of life in patients suffering from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
They presented their findings at the British Society of Gastroenterology Annual Meeting in Birmingham, England.
In the first study, investigators from the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland, evaluated the impact of gut-directed hypnotherapy upon health-related quality of life (HRQoL) status in IBS patients.
A total of 75 IBS patients (55 females, median age 37 years) were enrolled in the trial.
The predominant symptoms among the patients were abdominal pain in 46 (61%), altered bowel habit in 24 (32%), and abdominal bloating in 5 (7%).
Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scales, and an IBS disease-specific quality of life tool (IBSQoL) were used to measure outcomes.
The researchers took measurements at baseline (pre-treatment) and at 3 months post-treatment.
There were found to be statistical improvements in all domains of the IBSQoL (emotional, mental, and physical health, sleep, energy, diet, and social and physical role) after treatment.
Improvements were most marked in female patients, particularly those with predominant abdominal pain.
Furthermore, significant improvements were seen in both males and females for anxiety and depression.
Dr G. D. Smith commented that gut-directed hypnotherapy had a very positive impact upon psychological well being and HRQoL in IBS.
This appeared most effective in patients with a predominant symptom of abdominal pain and bloating.
The authors recommended that a randomized, controlled study of hypnotherapy in IBS should be conducted.
In the second study, a team from the University Hospital of South Manchester, England, conducted a long-term follow-up of IBS patients treated with hypnotherapy.
| Hypnotherapy improved symptoms and quality of life in IBS patients.
A total of 239 IBS patients, who had undergone hypnotherapy between 1 and 5 years previously, were contacted and asked to complete 3 separate questionnaires. Of these, 178 patients responded.
In a Subjective Assessment Questionnaire (assessing effects of hypnotherapy, medication use, and consultation rates) 86% of patients were found to have improved at the end of hypnotherapy (62% of whom rated symptoms as very much better).
Of the patients that improved, 83% reported that, since finishing hypnotherapy, symptoms had remained the same as at the end of hypnotherapy, or had continued to improve. However, 17% had some deterioration.
In addition, 59% of patients did not require any medication. Of those who did, 40% took it less often than previously.
Three quarters of the patients consulted their GP and/or hospital consultant less often about IBS symptoms, and 49% less about other symptoms.
All IBS measures in an IBS Questionnaire (rating severity of symptoms and QOL) remained significantly better at follow-up than before hypnotherapy. These included pain severity and frequency, bloating, bowel habit dissatisfaction, and life interference.
There was only slight deterioration in some of the measures at follow-up, compared with post-hypnotherapy.
Extra-colonic symptoms, QOL, and Hospital Anxiety and Depression scores all remained improved at follow-up.
Author W. M. Gonsalkorale said on behalf of the group, "This study confirms the long-term benefit of hypnotherapy."
"In addition, the substantial reduction of medication and consultation rates highlights the significant economic advantages of this form of treatment," it was concluded.