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Can 10 Group Sessions of Gut-Directed Imagery Make a Dent on IBS?

01 Jul

Researchers from the Medical University of Vienna in Vienna, Austria investigated whether gut-directed hypnotherapy (GHT) administered in group sessions is effective for refractory Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), as we know it is when administered in individual sessions.
A total of 164 patients with IBS (Rome-III-criteria) were screened, and of those, 100 patients refractory to usual treatment were randomized either to 10 sessions within 12 weeks of either supportive talks with medical treatment as usual (SMT) or to the latter along with gut directed hypnotherapy.

Patients were assessed for clinical improvement on several dimensions of daily life, as assessed by the IBS impact scale, immediately after treatment and again at 12-month follow-up.  In addition, they were also assessed for improvement in general quality of life (using the QOL Medical Outcome Study Short-Form-36); for psychological status (Hospital Anxiety Depression Scale); and for reduction of individual IBS symptoms.  Analysis was by intention to treat.

A total of 90 patients received an allocated intervention. After treatment, 28 (60.8%) out of 46 GHT patients, as compared to 18 (40.9%) out of 44 SMTs experienced significant improvement (absolute difference 20.0%; 95% confidence interval (CI): 0-40.2%; P=0.046).
Over 15 months, 54.3% of GHT patients and 25.0% of controls were significantly improved (absolute difference 29.4%; 95% CI 10.1-48.6%; P=0.004).
Similarly, those who received GHT with SMT improved in physical and psychological well being significantly more than SMT alone (P<0.001).  Gender, age, disease duration and IBS type did not have an influence on the long-term success of GHT.

The investigators conclude that GHT improves IBS-related QOL, is superior to SMT alone, and shows a long-term effect even in patients with refractory IBS.

Citation:  Moser G, Trägner S, Gajowniczek EE, Mikulits A, Michalski M, Kazemi-Shirazi L, Kulnigg-Dabsch S, Führer M, Ponocny-Seliger E, Dejaco C, Miehsler W. Long-term success of GUT-directed group hypnosis for patients with refractory irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2013 Apr;108(4):602-9. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2013.19. Epub 2013 Feb 19. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award