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Hypnotherapy for children with functional abdominal pain or irritable bowel syndrome.

09 Jan

In a randomized, controlled clinical trial, Dutch researchers from St. Antonius Hospital find that hypnotherapy dramatically decreases pain in children with irritable bowel syndrome or with functional abdominal pain

Researchers from the Department of Pediatrics at St. Antonius Hospital in Nieuwegein, The Netherlands, conducted a randomized, controlled trial to look at the efficacy of gut-directed hypnotherapy (HT) for reducing abdominal pain in children with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Fifty-three pediatric patients, age 8-18 years, with functional abdominal pain (n = 31) or IBS (n = 22), were randomized to either hypnotherapy or standard medical care. Hypnotherapy consisted of 6 sessions over a 3-month period. Patients in the standard care group received standard medical care and 6 sessions of supportive therapy. Pain intensity, pain frequency, and associated symptoms were scored in weekly standardized abdominal pain diaries at baseline, during therapy, and 6 and 12 months after therapy.

Pain scores decreased significantly in both groups: from baseline to 1 year follow-up, pain intensity scores decreased in the hypnotherapy group from 13.5 to 1.3 and in the standard care group from 14.1 to 8.0. Pain frequency scores decreased from 13.5 to 1.1 in the hypnotherapy group and from 14.4 to 9.3 in the standard care group.

The study concludes that hypnotherapy was highly superior, with a significantly greater reduction in pain scores as compared with standard care (P < .001). Further, at one year follow-up, successful treatment was accomplished in 85% of the hypnotherapy group as opposed to 25% of the standard care group (P < .001). Gut-directed hypnotherapy was recommended as highly effective in the treatment of children with longstanding functional abdominal pain or IBS.

Citation: Vlieger AM, Menko-Frankenhuis C, Wolfkamp SC, Tromp E, Benninga MA. Hypnotherapy for children with functional abdominal pain or irritable bowel syndrome: a randomized controlled trial. Gastroenterology. 2007 Nov; 133 (5): pages 1430-6. Epub 2007 Sep 2. 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