Treatment of non-cardiac chest pain: A controlled trial of hypnotherapy

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Background: Non-cardiac chest pain (NCCP) is an extremely debilitating condition of uncertain origin which is difficult to treat and consequently has a high psychological morbidity. Hypnotherapy has been shown to be effective in related conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome where its beneficial effects are long lasting. Aims: This study aimed to assess the efficacy of hypnotherapy in a selected group of patients with angina-like chest pain in whom coronary angiography was normal and oesophageal reflux was not contributory. Patients and methods: Twenty eight patients fulfilling the entry criteria were randomised to receive, after a four week baseline period, either 12 sessions of hypnotherapy or supportive therapy plus placebo medication over a 17 week period. The primary outcome measure was global assessment of chest pain improvement. Secondary variables were a change in scores for quality of life, pain severity, pain frequency, anxiety, and depression, as well as any alteration in the use of medication. Results: Twelve of 15 (80%) hypnotherapy patients compared with three of 13 (23%) controls experienced a global improvement in pain (p = 0.008) which was associated with a significantly greater reduction in pain intensity (p = 0.046) although not frequency. Hypnotherapy also resulted in a significantly greater improvement in overall well being in addition to a reduction in medication usage. There were no differences favouring hypnotherapy with respect to anxiety or depression scores. Conclusion: Hypnotherapy appears to have use in this highly selected group of NCCP patients and warrants further assessment in the broader context of this disorder.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1403-1408
Number of pages5
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006