Research: GONSALKORALE and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 108


GONSALKORALE and colleagues, Department of Medicine, University Hospital of South Manchester, Manchester, UK,, have found cognitive changes in patients undergoing hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).


Poor quality of life and psychological distress are common in IBS and may be associated with unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. Hypnotherapy is effective in improving both symptoms and quality of life in patients with IBS, and this study was designed to determine whether this improvement is reflected in cognitive changes.


78 IBS patients completed a validated symptom-scoring questionnaire, the Hospital Anxiety and Depression (HAD) Scale and the Cognitive Scale for Functional Bowel Disorders (FBDs), before and after 12 sessions of gut-focused Hypnotherapy.


Hypnotherapy resulted in improvement of symptoms, quality of life, and scores for anxiety and depression (p<.001). IBS-related cognitions also improved, with reduction in the total cognitive score (TCS; p<.001) and all component themes related to bowel function (p<.001). The most abnormal cognitive scores were observed in patients with the highest symptom scores (p<.001)., suggesting that dysfunctional cognitions are related to symptom severity. Furthermore, a reduction in symptom score following treatment correlated with an improvement in the cognitive score (p<.001).


This study shows that symptom improvement in IBS with Hypnotherapy is associated with cognitive changes. It also represents an initial step in unravelling the many possible mechanisms by which hypnotherapy might bring about improvement.


Gonsalkorale WM, Toner BB, Whorwell PJ. Cognitive change in patients undergoing hypnotherapy for irritable bowel syndrome. Journal of Psychosomatic Research 56(3): 271-278, Mar 2004.

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