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Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2013 Oct;38(7):761-71. doi: 10.1111/apt.12449. Epub 2013 Aug 19.

Gut-directed hypnotherapy significantly augments clinical remission in quiescent ulcerative colitis.

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  • 1Division of Gastroenterology, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL 60611, USA.



Psychotherapy is not routinely recommended for in ulcerative colitis (UC). Gut-directed hypnotherapy (HYP) has been linked to improved function in the gastrointestinal tract and may operate through immune-mediated pathways in chronic diseases.


To determine the feasibility and acceptability of HYP and estimate the impact of HYP on clinical remission status over a 1-year period in patients with an historical flare rate of 1.3 times per year.


A total of 54 patients were randomised at a single site to seven sessions of gut-directed HYP (n = 26) or attention control (CON; n = 29) and followed for 1 year. The primary outcome was the proportion of participants in each condition that had remained clinically asymptomatic (clinical remission) through 52 weeks post treatment.


One-way analysis of variance comparing HYP and CON subjects on number of days to clinical relapse favoured the HYP condition [F = 4.8 (1, 48), P = 0.03] by 78 days. Chi-squared analysis comparing the groups on proportion maintaining remission at 1 year was also significant [χ²(1) = 3.9, P = 0.04], with 68% of HYP and 40% of CON patients maintaining remission for 1 year. There were no significant differences between groups over time in quality of life, medication adherence, perceived stress or psychological factors.


This is the first prospective study that has demonstrated a significant effect of a psychological intervention on prolonging clinical remission in patients with quiescent ulcerative colitis (Clinical Trial # NCT00798642).

© 2013 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.

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