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Medicineworld.org: Using imagination to reduce abdominal pain

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Using imagination to reduce abdominal pain




Children with functional abdominal pain who used audio recordings of guided imagery at home in addition to standard medical therapy were almost three times as likely to improve their pain problem, in comparison to children who received standard therapy alone.

And those benefits were maintained six months after therapy ended, a newly released study by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University Medical Center scientists has found.

The study is reported in the November 2009 issue of the journal Pediatrics The main author is Miranda van Tilburg, Ph.D., assistant professor in the Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology in the UNC School of Medicine and a member of the UNC Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders.



Using imagination to reduce abdominal pain
Miranda van Tilburg, Ph.D. is a researcher at University of North Carolina School of Medicine.

Credit: UNC Center for Functional GI & Motility Disorders


"What is particularly exciting about our study is that children can clearly reduce their abdominal pain a lot on their own with guidance from audio recordings, and they get much better results that way than from medical care alone," said van Tilburg. "Such self-administered therapy is, of course, very inexpensive and can be used in addition to other therapys, which potentially opens the door for easily enhancing therapy outcomes for a lot of children suffering from frequent stomach aches".

The study focused on functional abdominal pain, defined according tosistent pain with no identifiable underlying disease that interferes with activities. It is very common, affecting up to 20 percent of children. Previous studies have observed that behavioral treatment and guided imagery (a therapy method similar to self-hypnosis) are effective, when combined with regular medical care, to reduce pain and improve quality of life. But for a number of children behavioral treatment is not available because it is costly, takes a lot of time and requires a highly trained therapist.

For this study, 34 children ages 6 to 15 years old who had been diagnosed with functional abdominal pain by a doctor were recruited to participate by pediatric gastroenterologists at UNC Hospitals and Duke University Medical Center. All received standard medical care and 19 were randomized to receive eight weeks of guided imagery therapy. A total of 29 children finished the study; 15 in the guided imagery plus medical therapy group and 14 in the medical therapy alone group.

The guided imagery sessions, developed jointly by van Tilburg, co-investigator Olafur Palsson, Psy.D. and Marsha Turner, the study coordinator, were recorded on CDs and given to children in the study to use at home.

The therapy consisted of a series of four biweekly, 20-minute sessions and shorter 10-minute daily sessions. In session one, for example, the CD directs children to imagine floating on a cloud and relaxing progressively. The session then gives them therapeutic suggestions and imagery for reducing discomfort, such as letting a special shiny object melt into their hand and then placing their hand on their belly, spreading warmth and light from the hand inside the tummy to make a protective barrier inside that prevents anything from irritating the belly.

In the group that used guided imagery, the children reported that the CDs were easy and enjoyable to use. In that group, 73.3 percent reported that their abdominal pain was reduced by half or more by the end of the therapy course. Only 26.7 percent in the standard medical care only group achieved the same level of improvement. This increased to 58.3 percent when guided imagery therapy was offered later to the standard medical care only group. In both groups combined, these benefits persisted for six months in 62.5 percent of the children.

The study concluded that guided imagery therapy plus medical care was superior to standard medical care alone for the therapy of functional abdominal pain, and that therapy effects were sustained over a long period.


Posted by: JoAnn    Source




Did you know?
Children with functional abdominal pain who used audio recordings of guided imagery at home in addition to standard medical therapy were almost three times as likely to improve their pain problem, in comparison to children who received standard therapy alone. And those benefits were maintained six months after therapy ended, a newly released study by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Duke University Medical Center scientists has found.

Medicineworld.org: Using imagination to reduce abdominal pain

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