Hypnosis for the Management of Anxiety and Dyspnea in COPD: A Randomized, Sham-Controlled Crossover Trial

Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2020 Oct 22;15:2609-2620. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S267019. eCollection 2020.


Background: Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are prone to dyspnea, increased respiratory rate and other anxiety-inducing symptoms. Hypnosis constitutes a complementary procedure capable of improving subjective feelings of anxiety.

Objective: Assessing the efficacy of a 15-minute hypnosis intervention for immediate improvement of anxiety in severe COPD patients.

Methods: Twenty-one participants, COPD patients (mean FEV1 < 32.3%), were randomly assigned to two individual sessions in crossover (sham and hypnosis, 24-h washout period, arms: hypnosis-sham [n=11]/sham-hypnosis [n=10]). We tracked pre- and post-intervention anxiety (STAI-6 score) as primary endpoint.

Results: Nineteen (90.5%) participants completed the study. Anxiety diminished significantly after hypnosis (STAI-6 scores -23.8% [SD = 18.4%] hypnosis vs -3.1% [32.8%] sham; χ2=8, P<0.01, Bayes Factor 5.5). Respiratory rate also decreased after hypnosis. Improvements in SpO2 and Borg exertion scores were registered after both conditions.

Conclusion: A 15-minute hypnosis session improved participants' anxiety and lowered respiratory rate (as opposed to sham). Improvements in anxiety were correlated with an alleviation in respiratory strain. Results imply that hypnosis can contribute to the improvement of anxiety levels and breathing mechanics in severe COPD patients.

Registration id: ISRCTN10029862.

Keywords: COPD; anxiety; complementary care; depression; dyspnea; hypnosis.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / diagnosis
  • Anxiety / therapy
  • Bayes Theorem
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Dyspnea / diagnosis
  • Dyspnea / etiology
  • Dyspnea / therapy
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis*
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / diagnosis
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / therapy

Grant support

This study was funded by the Bligny Hospital Center (CHB) and the Fondation pour les Soins Palliatifs (FSP). HA’s contribution to this work was supported in part by the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS, GRANT NUMBER: 18F18307).