Researchers randomly assigned 54 adult patients with ulcerative colitis (UC) in remission at enrollment to seven weekly, 40-minute sessions of gut-directed hypnotherapy (HYP; n=26) or attention control (n=28). All participants self-reported more than one flare per year, had documented flares within the previous 1.5 years and were receiving a stable dose of maintenance therapy for more than 1 month before the study.
Disease status and quality of life were measured at baseline and at 2, 20, 36 and 52 weeks after completing therapy. Patients provided sociodemographic and medical information, completed daily symptom diaries at baseline and during treatment, and responded to questionnaires assessing disease activity, physical and mental health and perceived stress levels.
“As a health psychologist, I would see patients who would loosen up on their self-care when they were in remission, and it seemed like having a pleasant, simple tool like hypnotherapy could help keep them in touch with their disease self-management,” researcher Laurie Keefer,PhD, associate professor and director of the Center for Psychological Research in GI at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, told Healio.com.
Flares occurred in eight patients in the HYP group and 15 among controls. HYP patients had a greater number of days to clinical relapse than controls on one-way Anova analysis (F=4.8, P=.03). More treated patients maintained remission for 1 year (68% vs. 40% of controls;P=.04) in chi-square analysis. Investigators calculated via Cox proportional hazards model that controls were at 2.11 times the risk for flares compared with HYP recipients (P=.09).
Quality of life and assessments of psychological factors, stress levels and medication adherence did not differ significantly between groups.
“Hypnotherapy works as an adjunct treatment in inflammatory bowel disease,” Keefer said. “It may help keep patients in remission a little longer, especially those patients who have frequent flares or who have functional symptoms on top of their IBD.”
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