The Efficacy of Hypnotherapy in the Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

J Neurogastroenterol Motil. 2014 Apr 30;20(2):152-62. doi: 10.5056/jnm.2014.20.2.152.


Background/aims: Hypnotherapy is considered as a promising intervention for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but the evidence is still limited. The aims of this study were to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis to estimate the efficacy of hypnotherapy for the treatment of IBS.

Methods: A literature search was performed using MEDLINE (PubMed), Embase, PsycINFO and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL database). Only randomized controlled trials that compared hypnotherapy with any other conven-tional treatment or no treatment in patients with IBS were included. Studies had to report outcomes as IBS symptom score or quality of life. The mean change in outcome score was used to pool these outcomes for the meta-analysis. Data were syn-thesized using the standardized mean difference for continuous data.

Results: Seven randomized controlled trials (6 papers) involving 374 patients with IBS were identified. Performance bias was high in all trials because it was impossible to blind participants and therapists in this type of intervention. The outcomes in this meta-anal-ysis were evaluated at 3 months for short-term effects and at 1 year for long-term effects. The change in abdominal pain score at 3 months was significant in the hypnotherapy group (standardized mean difference, -0.83; 95% CI, -1.65 to -0.01). Three of the 4 trials showed greater improvement in overall gastrointestinal symptoms in the hypnotherapy group.

Conclusions: This study provides clearer evidence that hypnotherapy has beneficial short-term effects in improving gastrointestinal symptoms of patients with IBS.

Keywords: Gastrointestinal diseases; Hypnosis; Irritable bowel syndrome; Meta-analysis; Review.

Publication types

  • Review