Digestive Disease Week

Digestive Disease Week

Disclosures: Lee reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
June 01, 2020
2 min read

Clinical hypnosis may improve pediatric Crohn’s disease pain

Disclosures: Lee reports no relevant financial disclosures. Please see the full study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.
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Clinical hypnosis that includes focused relaxation and therapeutic suggestion may be a promising complementary therapy for children with Crohn’s disease, according to research from Digestive Disease Week.

Amanda D. Lee, MD, from Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Nashville, said in a recorded audio presentation that persistent abdominal pain despite disease remission leads to poorer quality of life among pediatric patients with CD.

“These patients experience an increased prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders compared to the general population,” she said. “They also experience social impairment, again for different reasons, which may include embarrassing gastrointestinal symptoms, different growth compared to their peers and the unpredictable nature of this chronic disease. These patients have expressed interest in complementary therapies to control these residual symptoms that are not fully addressed by conventional treatments for Crohn’s disease.”

Researchers enrolled 40 patients with Crohn’s disease between ages 12 and 18 years in their study. They randomly assigned patients to undergo hypnosis intervention or waitlist control.

Patients in the hypnosis arm received one in-person hypnosis session focused on enhancing comfort and energy, as well as education on self-hypnosis and audio recordings for 8 weeks of home practice.

Investigators assessed patients at 8 and 16 weeks using various measures for quality of life, pain and disease activity.

After 8 weeks, Lee and colleagues found that patients in the hypnosis group had significant improvement in patient reported quality of life, but not in the control group (P = .006). Patients in the hypnosis group also experienced improvement in maximum abdominal pain intensity (P = .01), in Pain Beliefs Questionnaire short form (P = .04) and in school absences (P = .03).

Researchers found that patients who used self-hypnosis three to four times per week (50%) tended to have greater quality of life improvement than patients who practiced less.

Lee said their findings show that clinical hypnosis is feasible as an adjunctive therapy for CD that may help improve pain and psychosocial function in pediatric patients.

“Clinical hypnosis may serve as a useful and low-risk complementary tool for patients with pain and psychosocial impairment and warrants further investigation,” she said. “In the future, we would like to evaluate the impact of clinical hypnosis for patients with active Crohn’s disease, greater symptomatology and ulcerative colitis.”


Lee A, et al. Abstract 1165. Presented at: Digestive Disease Week; May 2-5, 2020; Chicago (meeting canceled).