Listed in Issue 178


VAN TILBURG and COLLEAGUES,  Center for Functional Gastrointestinal and Motility Disorders, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina 27599, USA. developed and tested a guided imagery treatment protocol with audio and video recordings applicable to a wide range of health care settings.


This study was designed to develop and to test a home-based, guided imagery treatment protocol, using audio and video recordings, that is easy for health care professionals and patients to use, is inexpensive, and is applicable to a wide range of health care settings.


Thirty-four children, 6 to 15 years of age, with a physician diagnosis of functional abdominal pain were assigned randomly to receive 2 months of standard medical care with or without home-based, guided imagery treatment. Children who received only standard medical care initially received guided imagery treatment after 2 months. Children were monitored for 6 months after completion of guided imagery treatment.


All treatment materials were reported to be self-explanatory, enjoyable, and easy to understand and to use. The compliance rate was 98.5%. In an intention-to-treat analysis, 63.1% of children in the guided imagery treatment group were treatment responders, compared with 26.7% in the standard medical care-only group (P = .03; number needed to treat: 3). Per-protocol analysis showed similar results (73.3% vs 28.6% responders). When the children in the standard medical care group also received guided imagery treatment, 61.5% became treatment responders. Treatment effects were maintained for 6 months (62.5% responders).


Guided imagery treatment plus medical care was superior to standard medical care only for the treatment of abdominal pain, and treatment effects were sustained over a long period.


van Tilburg MA, Chitkara DK, Palsson OS, Turner M, Blois-Martin N, Ulshen M and Whitehead WE. Audio-recorded guided imagery treatment reduces functional abdominal pain in children: a pilot study. Pediatrics.  124(5):e890-7. Nov 2009.

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