Severe Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) in school children and adolescents often leads to stigmatisation, social withdrawal, disrupted education, and psychological distress. Whilst 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 ≤ 18 years of age from a tertiary referral centre.
Consecutive patients ≤18 years of age 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-and post GFH. Clinical response was defined as ≥50 point reduction in IBS-SSS.
32 young patients fulfilling Rome III diagnostic criteria for IBS (median age 16 (range 8-18) years, n=23/32 (72%) female, completed GFH. At baseline, the mean duration of IBS was 5.9 ± 0.9 years, and mean IBS-SSS was 313 ± 14. After GFH, n=28/32 (88%) responded, with a mean overall reduction in IBS-SSS -159 ± 16 (P<0.0001), and n=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).
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.