HRV biofeedback for pediatric irritable bowel syndrome and functional abdominal pain: a clinical replication series

Appl Psychophysiol Biofeedback. 2014 Dec;39(3-4):287-91. doi: 10.1007/s10484-014-9261-x.


Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and Functional Abdominal Pain (FAP) are among the most commonly reported Functional Gastrointestinal Disorders. Both have been associated with varying autonomic dysregulation. Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback (HRVB) has recently begun to show efficacy in the treatment of both IBS and FAP. The purpose of this multiple clinical replication series was to analyze the clinical outcomes of utilizing HRVB in a clinical setting. Archival data of twenty-seven consecutive pediatric outpatients diagnosed with IBS or FAP who received HRVB were analyzed. Clinical outcomes were self-report and categorized as full or remission with patient satisfaction, or no improvement. Qualitative reports of patient experiences were also noted. Full remission was achieved by 69.2 % and partial remission was achieved by 30.8 % of IBS patients. Full remission was achieved by 63.6 % and partial remission was achieved by 36.4 % of FAP patients. No patients in either group did not improve to a level of patient satisfaction or >50 %. Patient's commonly reported feeling validated in their discomfort as a result of psychophysiological education. Results suggest that HRVB is a promising intervention for pediatric outpatients with IBS or FAP. Randomized controlled trials are necessary to accurately determine clinical efficacy of HRVB in the treatment of IBS and FAP.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / therapy*
  • Adolescent
  • Biofeedback, Psychology / methods*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Heart Rate / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / therapy*
  • Male
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Random Allocation
  • Remission Induction
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome