J R Coll Physicians Edinb. 2013;43(1):15-23. doi: 10.4997/JRCPE.2013.104.

Randomised controlled trial of brief intervention with biofeedback and hypnotherapy in patients with refractory irritable bowel syndrome.

Dobbin ADobbin JRoss SCGraham CFord MJ.

 

Research Introduction

This study compared brief interventions with either three sessions of biofeedback or three sessions of hypnotherapy for women with treatment-refractory IBS symptoms. A total of 61 women completed the study. Both hypnosis and biofeedback treatment were found equally effective at improving IBS symptom severity scores, total non-gastrointestinal symptom scores and anxiety and depression ratings during 24 weeks follow-up. It should be noted that the hypnosis treatment used in this study - only three sessions for each patient - is the shortest treatment course (fewest sessions) used in any published study of hypnosis for IBS to date.

 

Abstract

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a common disorder associated with profoundly impaired quality of life and emotional distress. The management of refractory IBS symptoms remains challenging and non-pharmacological therapeutic approaches have been shown to be effective. We compared brief interventions with biofeedback and hypnotherapy in women referred by their GP with refractory IBS symptoms. Patients were randomised to one of two treatment groups, biofeedback or hypnotherapy, delivered as three one-hour sessions over 12 weeks. Symptom assessments were undertaken using validated, self-administered questionnaires. Two of the 128 consecutive IBS patients suitable for the study declined to consider nonpharmacological therapy and 29 patients did not attend beyond the first session. Of the 97 patients randomised into the study, 21 failed to attend the therapy session; 15 of 76 patients who attended for therapy dropped out before week 12 post-therapy. The mean (SD) change in IBS symptom severity score 12 weeks post-treatment in the biofeedback group was -116.8 (99.3) and in the hypnotherapy group -58.0 (101.1), a statistically significant difference between groups (difference=-58.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] for difference [-111.6, -6.1], p=0.029). In 61 patients with refractory IBS, biofeedback and hypnotherapy were equally effective at improving IBS symptom severity scores, total non-gastrointestinal symptom scores and anxiety and depression ratings during 24 weeks follow-up. Biofeedback may prove to be the more cost-effective option as it requires less expertise.

 

Link to full paper with PMID: 23516685