Aims and objectives. This study quantified health-related quality of life in a group of irritable bowel syndrome patients and measures changes following a treatment programme of nurse-led gut-directed hypnotherapy.
Background. It is well recognized that health-related quality of life can be severely impaired in patients suffering form the irritable bowel syndrome. Current conventional treatment for irritable bowel syndrome is often unsatisfactory. In contrast it has been shown that gut-directed hypnotherapy is an effective treatment of irritable bowel syndrome with up to three-quarters of patients reporting symptomatic improvement.
Design/method. Seventy-five patients (55 females/20 males, median age 37·1 years, age range 18–64) comprised the study group. Physical symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome were recorded using seven-day diary cards. On presentation the predominant symptoms were abdominal pain (61%), altered bowel habit (32·5%), and abdominal distension/bloating (6·5%) in the patient group. An irritable bowel syndrome quality of life questionnaire was used to define health-related quality of life. Psychological well-being was measured using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Data analysis was carried out using MINITAB, Release 12 for Windows.
Results. Physical symptoms statistically improved after hypnotherapy. There were also significant statistical improvements (P < 0·001) in six of the eight health-related quality of life domains measured (emotional, mental health, sleep, physical function, energy and social role). These improvements were most marked in female patients who reported abdominal pain as their predominant physical symptom. Anxiety and depression improved following treatment.
Conclusion. Gut-directed hypnotherapy has a very positive impact on health-related quality of life with improvements in psychological well-being and physical symptoms. It appears most effective in patients with abdominal pain and distension.
Relevance to clinical practice. This study demonstrates that by integrating complementary therapies into conventional care that gastrointestinal nurses have a potential role in the management of irritable bowel syndrome.