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Int J Colorectal Dis. 2000 Nov;15(5-6):328-34.

Hypnotherapy and therapeutic audiotape: effective in previously unsuccessfully treated irritable bowel syndrome?

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St Mark's Hospital, Watford Road, Harrow HA1 3UJ, UK.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is not always readily responsive to conventional therapy. Hypnotherapy is effective but time consuming and labour intensive. Preliminary data suggested equivalent value from a specially devised audiotape. Tape use is now compared with gut-directed hyponotherapy in a randomised controlled trial. Consenting patients (n = 52; 37 women) with established IBS were recruited to a 12-week study. All had failed dietary and pharmacological therapy. The median age was 37 years (range 19-71); median symptom duration was 60 months (8-480). Randomisation was to six sessions of individual hypnotherapy, or to the tape, with stratification according to predominant symptom. Symptom scores and validated psychological questionnaires were utilised. Twenty-five patients (18 women) received hypnotherapy, 27 the tape. Successful trance was induced in all hypnotherapy patients. By intention to treat, symptom scores improved in 76% of hypnotherapy patients and in 59% of tape patients (not significant). Amongst 45 patients providing a full set of symptom scores there was advantage to hypnotherapy, with a reduction in median score from 14 to 8.5 compared to an unchanged score of 13 in audiotape patients (P < 0.05). The assessor considered 52% in each group to have improved. Those with greater initial anxiety tended to be more compliant and more likely to respond. Gut-directed hypnotherapy and audiotapes appear valuable in resistant IBS. Although probably inferior to hypnotherapy, the ease and economy of tape use may be considered sufficient to recommend it as a second-line option in IBS, reserving hypnotherapy for failures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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