Investigators from the School of Clinical Sciences and Community Health at the University of Edinburgh in the UK compared brief interventions with biofeedback and hypnotherapy in women with refractory Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Patients were randomized to one of two treatment groups, biofeedback or hypnotherapy, delivered as three one-hour sessions over 12 weeks.

Symptom assessments were undertaken using validated, self-administered questionnaires.
Two of the 128 consecutive IBS patients suitable for the study declined to consider nonpharmacological therapy and 29 patients did not attend beyond the first session.

Of the 97 patients  remaining, 21 failed to attend the therapy session; 15 of 76 patients who attended for therapy dropped out before week 12 post-therapy.
The mean (SD) change in IBS symptom severity score 12 weeks post-treatment in the biofeedback group was -116.8 (99.3) and in the hypnotherapy group -58.0 (101.1), a statistically significant difference between groups (difference=-58.8, 95% confidence interval [CI] for difference [-111.6, -6.1], p=0.029).
In 61 patients with refractory IBS, biofeedback and hypnotherapy were equally effective at improving IBS symptom severity scores, total non-gastrointestinal symptom scores and anxiety and depression ratings during 24 weeks follow-up. Biofeedback may prove to be the more cost-effective option as it requires less expertise.
[Ed. Note: This was a high rate of non-completers – it might be worthwhile to look into why this was so, and figure out how to adjust these protocols to reduce the dropout rate.]

Citation:  Dobbin A, Dobbin J, Ross SC, Graham C, Ford MJ. Randomised controlled trial of brief intervention with biofeedback and hypnotherapy in patients with refractory irritable bowel syndrome. Journal of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. 2013;43 (1): pages 15-23. [email protected]