Article Text

Original research
Gut-focused hypnotherapy for children and adolescents with irritable bowel syndrome
  1. Dipesh H Vasant1,2,
  2. Syed S Hasan1,
  3. Pamela Cruickshanks1,
  4. Peter J Whorwell1,2
  1. 1 Gastroenterology Department, Neurogastroenterology Unit, Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, Greater Manchester, UK
  2. 2 Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology and Gastroenterology, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Dipesh H Vasant, Neurogastroenterology Unit, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, Manchester, Greater Manchester, UK; dipesh.vasant{at}


Objective Severe irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) in school children and adolescents often leads to stigmatisation, social withdrawal, disrupted education and psychological distress. While there are few effective treatment options for IBS in this age group, gut-focused hypnotherapy (GFH) has shown promise in several trials. Unfortunately, GFH is not widely available, and clinical data outside of trials are scarce. Here, we evaluated outcomes from GFH in patients with IBS, aged ≤18 years, from a tertiary referral centre.

Design/Method Consecutive patients aged ≤18 years with severe IBS received 12 sessions of GFH, at weekly intervals, using the Manchester Protocol. Clinical outcomes data, including IBS Symptom Severity Score (IBS-SSS), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), Non-colonic Symptom Score and Quality-of-Life (QoL) score, were collected prospectively, and compared pre-GFH and post-GFH. Clinical response was defined as ≥50 point reduction in IBS-SSS.

Results 32 young patients fulfilling Rome III diagnostic criteria for IBS (median age 16 (range 8–18) years, n=23/32 (72%) female individuals) completed GFH. At baseline, the mean duration of IBS was 5.9±0.9 years, and the mean IBS-SSS was 313±14. After GFH, 28/32 (88%) responded, with a mean overall reduction in IBS-SSS −159±16 (p<0.0001), and 24/32 (75%) achieved ≥30% reduction in abdominal pain scores. GFH also improved: non-colonic symptoms (p<0.0001), HADS-anxiety (p<0.0001), HADS-depression (p=0.0002) and QoL Scores (p<0.0001).

Conclusion GFH is highly effective in children and adolescents with IBS. Early intervention with GFH in childhood IBS may reduce the subsequent burden of this problem in adults.

  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • psychotherapy
  • paediatric gastroenterology

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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  • Contributors DHV conceptualised the study, analysed and interpreted data, wrote the paper, and is the guarantor of the manuscript, SSH and PC acquired data and helped write the manuscript, PJW helped write the manuscript and provided important intellectual input.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.

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