European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 172, Issue 8, pp 1043–1051

Brief hypnotherapeutic–behavioral intervention for functional abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome in childhood: a randomized controlled trial

  • Marco Daniel Gulewitsch
  • Judith Müller
  • Martin Hautzinger
  • Angelika Anita Schlarb
Original Article


Functional abdominal pain and irritable bowel syndrome are two prevalent disorders in childhood which are associated with recurrent or chronic abdominal pain, disabilities in daily functioning, and reduced quality of life. This study aimed to evaluate a brief hypnotherapeutic-behavioral intervention program in a prospective randomized controlled design. Thirty-eight children, 6 to 12 years of age, and their parents were randomly assigned to a standardized hypnotherapeutic–behavioral treatment (n = 20) or to a waiting list condition (n = 18). Both groups were reassessed 3 months after beginning. Primary outcome variables were child-completed pain measures and pain-related disability. Secondary outcome variables were parent-completed measures of their children's pain and pain-related disability. Health-related quality of life from both perspectives also served as a secondary outcome. In the treatment group, 11 of 20 children (55.0 %) showed clinical remission (>80 % improvement), whereas only one child (5.6 %) in the waiting list condition was classified as responder. Children in the treatment group reported a significantly greater reduction of pain scores and pain-related disability than children of the waiting list condition. Parental ratings also showed a greater reduction of children's abdominal pain and pain-related disability. Health-related quality of life did not increase significantly. Conclusions: Hypnotherapeutic and behavioral interventions are effective in treating children with long-standing AP. Treatment success of this brief program should be further evaluated against active interventions with a longer follow-up.


Functional abdominal pain Irritable bowel syndrome Children Hypnotherapy Randomized–controlled trial 


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marco Daniel Gulewitsch
    • 1
  • Judith Müller
    • 1
  • Martin Hautzinger
    • 1
  • Angelika Anita Schlarb
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology, Clinical Psychology and PsychotherapyUniversity of TübingenTübingenGermany

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