To determine the benefits of healing therapy (spiritual healing) as an adjunct to conventional management in irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
200 outpatients with IBS or IBD were randomised to either conventional treatment (control) or conventional plus five sessions of healing therapy (intervention). After 12 weeks controls also had healing therapy. Outcomes used were, the Measure Yourself Medical Outcomes Profile (MYMOP). IBS-QOL, IBDQ, and symptom measures.
There was a significant improvement in the MYMOP score at week 6 (p < 0.001) which was maintained to week 12 (p < 0.001) and 24 (p < 0.001). Improvements in MYMOP were significantly greater in the intervention group at both 6 (p < 0.001) and 12 weeks (p < 0.001) with effect sizes of 0.7 (95% CI: 0.4–1.1) and 0.8 (95% CI: 0.4–1.2). Condition-specific data for IBS showed that most QoL dimensions had a significant minimum 10-point score improvement at 6 and 12 weeks. The overall score improvement was 12.9 units at week 6 (p < 0.001), 12.4 units at week 12 (p < 0.001) and 13.8 units at week 24 (p < 0.001). In IBD there was also similar score improvement, but only up to week 12 were there associations of improved social and bowel functions (p < 0.001, respectively). Between group differences were identified for QoL scores in IBS at both week 6 (p < 0.001) and 12 (p < 0.001) but only for week 12 (p < 0.001) in the IBD group.
The addition of healing therapy to conventional treatment was associated with improvement in symptoms and QoL in IBS, and to a lesser extent in IBD.