Mind-body Interventions for Gastrointestinal Conditions

Published in: Evidence Report/Technology Assessment No. 40 (Prepared by Southern California/RAND Evidence-Based Practice Center, under Contract No. 290-97-0001). AHRQ Publication No. 01-E027. (Rockville, MD: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Mar. 2001), 4 p

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2000

by Ian D. Coulter, Mary L. Hardy, Joya T. Favreau, Pamela D. Elfenbaum, Sally C. Morton, Elizabeth Roth, Barbara Genovese, Paul G. Shekelle

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The idea that physical processes in the body can be influenced by emotional factors, that the mind and body are connected, has distinguished modern western (allopathic) attitudes about health and the practice of medicine from most others throughout history. So-called mind-body interventions have been applied to conditions affecting every part of the body. The goal of the first SCEPC NCCAM evidence report was to provide a comprehensive review of the use of mind-body interventions for the treatment of one condition or a review of one mind-body modality. METHODOLOGY: A panel of technical experts representing diverse disciplines advised the researchers throughout the course of the study. A broad search of the literature revealed a sufficient number of comparative treatment studies on the use of mind-body interventions to treat gastrointestinal (GI) conditions to warrant a review. Interventions for which no comparative treatment studies could be identified were omitted. The literature search, screening, review, and data gathering process were performed using techniques developed by the SCEPC for evidence reports. Data were collected using special screening forms designed for the study. OUTCOMES: Interpretation of the results of trials of mind-body interventions for GI conditions was seriously hampered by methodological problems. Results of the small number of methodologically acceptable studies provided limited evidence for an effect of behavioral, cognitive, guided imagery, and relaxation techniques for the treatment of GI problems in adults, however no conclusions could be drawn about the use of hypnotherapy. Results of biofeedback interventions in adults were mixed, whereas the technique appears ineffective for children.

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