Randomised clinical trial: individual versus group hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome

Aliment Pharmacol Ther. 2022 Jun;55(12):1501-1511. doi: 10.1111/apt.16934. Epub 2022 May 3.


Background: Gut-directed hypnotherapy improves symptoms for patients with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Group hypnotherapy, as well as hypnotherapy administered by nurses, can increase treatment availability, but there are few comparisons between individual and group-based hypnotherapy.

Aim: We aimed to evaluate and compare the effectiveness of nurse-administered hypnotherapy for IBS delivered individually or in groups.

Methods: IBS patients were randomised to individual or group hypnotherapy (8 sessions, 12 weeks). The primary endpoint was changes in severity of IBS symptoms. A responder was defined as reduction of IBS severity scoring system (IBS-SSS) ≥50 points at the end of treatment compared to baseline. The effects on extracolonic and psychological symptoms, and quality of life were also assessed. Symptoms were also followed up 6 months after treatment start.

Results: A total of 119 patients were randomised (61 individual, 58 group hypnotherapy). Patients reported improvements in IBS symptoms (IBS-SSS) (individual: 332 (273-401) (median, IQR), versus 216 (140-308), (p < 0.0001), group: 315 (239-382), versus 217 (149-314), (p < 0.0001)), with no differences between the groups (p = 0.16). Extracolonic symptoms, psychological symptoms and quality of life also improved, without clear differences between the groups. Sixty-nine percent of the individual hypnotherapy patients were responders after treatment versus 57% of the group hypnotherapy patients (p = 0.25). Symptom improvements were also seen at follow-up.

Conclusions: Nurse-administered gut-directed hypnotherapy, delivered individually or in groups, relieves IBS symptoms, improves psychological symptoms and quality of life. Group hypnotherapy can be an efficacious alternative, enabling more patients to benefit from the treatment (ClinicalTrials.gov ID no of study: NCT03432078).

Significant improvements regarding IBS symptoms were seen for patients receiving individual or group hypnotherapy, with no differences between the groups.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Hypnosis*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome* / psychology
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome* / therapy
  • Quality of Life
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03432078