Randomised clinical trial: individual versus group hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2022 Jun;55(12):1501-1511.doi: 10.1111/apt.16934. Epub 2022 May 3.


Jenny Lövdahl 1Hans Törnblom 1Gisela Ringström 1Olafur S Palsson 2Magnus Simrén 1


Author information

1Department of Molecular and Clinical Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, Gothenburg, Sweden.

2Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.


Background: Gut-directed hypnotherapy improves symptoms for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Group hypnotherapy, as well as hypnotherapy administered by nurses, can increase treatment availability, but there are few comparisons between individual and group-based hypnotherapy.

Aim: We aimed to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of nurse-administered hypnotherapy for IBS delivered individually or in groups.

Methods: IBS patients were randomised to individual or group hypnotherapy (8 sessions, 12 weeks). The primary endpoint was changes in severity of IBS symptoms. A responder was defined as reduction of IBS severity scoring system (IBS-SSS) ≥50 points at the end of treatment compared to baseline. The effects on extracolonic and psychological symptoms, and quality of life were also assessed. Symptoms were also followed up 6 months after treatment start.

Results: A total of 119 patients were randomised (61 individual, 58 group hypnotherapy). Patients reported improvements in IBS symptoms (IBS-SSS) (individual: 332 (273-401) (median, IQR), versus 216 (140-308), (p < 0.0001), group: 315 (239-382), versus 217 (149-314), (p < 0.0001)), with no differences between the groups (p = 0.16). Extracolonic symptoms, psychological symptoms and quality of life also improved, without clear differences between the groups. Sixty-nine percent of the individual hypnotherapy patients were responders after treatment versus 57% of the group hypnotherapy patients (p = 0.25). Symptom improvements were also seen at follow-up.

Conclusions: Nurse-administered gut-directed hypnotherapy, delivered individually or in groups, relieves IBS symptoms, improves psychological symptoms and quality of life. Group hypnotherapy can be an efficacious alternative, enabling more patients to benefit from the treatment (ClinicalTrials.gov ID no of study: NCT03432078).


© Copyright 2013-2024 GI Health Foundation. All rights reserved.
This site is maintained as an educational resource for US healthcare providers only. Use of this website is governed by the GIHF terms of use and privacy statement.