The efficiency of self-administered hypnotherapy is equivalent to that of in-office hypnotherapy in relieving pediatric irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or functional abdominal pain (FAP), according to results of a randomized clinical trial recently published in JAMA Pediatrics.1
IBS or FAP are diagnosed in 13.5% of children.2 Pharmacotherapy is largely ineffective for abdominal pain-related functional gastrointestinal disorders, but data suggest some patients may benefit from psychological interventions like hypnotherapy.3 Access to hypnotherapy for children is often hampered by inadequate insurance coverage and a lack of qualified experts. In an effort to facilitate access to hypnotherapy, researchers at Emma Children’s Hospital in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, recorded a hypnotherapy program on CD, designed for at-home use.
A total of 250 children (mean age, 13; n = 126 with IBS; n = 124 with FAP), were recruited between July 2011 and June 2013 for this multi-center randomized controlled trial. Baseline characteristics were similar in the hypnotherapy CD group (n=126) and the in-office hypnotherapy group (n=124).
Children randomly assigned to in-office hypnotherapy attended 6 sessions with a qualified hypnotherapist over 3 months. Each session lasted between 50 and 60 minutes. The hypnotherapy exercises consisted primarily of “gut-directed” visualization exercises that emphasized relaxation, controlling abdominal pain and gut function, and ego strengthening.4 The children were advised to practice the exercises regularly at home. To reduce the possibility of any one hypnotherapist biasing results, the study employed 11 hypnotherapists.