Importance: Individual gut-directed hypnotherapy (HT) is effective in pediatric irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and functional abdominal pain or functional abdominal pain syndrome (FAP[S]). It is, however, unavailable to many children.
Objective: To compare the effectiveness of HT by means of home-based self-exercises using a CD with that of individual HT (iHT) performed by qualified therapists.
Design, setting, and participants: This noninferiority randomized clinical trial with a follow-up of 1 year after the end of treatment was conducted from July 15, 2011, through June 24, 2013, at 9 secondary and tertiary care centers throughout the Netherlands. A total of 303 children were eligible to participate. Of those, 260 children (aged 8-18 years) with IBS or FAP(S) were included in this study. Children were randomized (1:1 ratio) to home-based HT with a CD (CD group) or iHT performed by qualified therapists (iHT group). No children withdrew from the study because of adverse effects.
Interventions: The CD group was instructed to perform exercises 5 times per week or more for 3 months. The iHT group consisted of 6 sessions during 3 months.
Main outcomes and measures: Primary outcomes were treatment success directly after treatment and after 1-year follow-up. Treatment success was defined as a 50% or greater reduction in pain frequency and intensity scores. The noninferiority limit was set at 50% treatment success in the CD group, with a maximum of 25% difference in treatment success with the iHT group after 1-year follow-up. Modified intention-to-treat analyses were performed.
Results: A total of 132 children were assigned to the CD group and 128 to the iHT group; 250 children were analyzed (126 in the CD group and 124 in the iHT group) (mean [SD] age, 13.4 [2.9] years in the CD group and 13.3 [2.8] years in the iHT group; 94 female [74.6%] in the CD group and 85 [68.5%] in the iHT group). Directly after treatment, 46 children (36.8%) in the CD group and 62 (50.1%) in the iHT group were successfully treated. After 1-year follow-up, the 62.1% treatment success in the CD group was noninferior to the 71.0% in the iHT group (difference, -8.9%; 90% CI, -18.9% to 0.7%; P = .002).
Conclusions and relevance: Long-term effectiveness of home-based HT with a CD is noninferior to iHT performed by therapists in pediatric IBS or FAP(S). Treatment with hypnosis using a CD provides an attractive treatment option for these children.
Trial registration: trialregister.nl Identifier: NTR2725.