Posts tagged with "England"

Hypnotizing patients over Skype helps ease the symptoms of IBS

April 3, 2019

Teletherapy—the online delivery of speech, occupational, and mental health therapy services via two-way video conferencing—is gaining in popularity because it makes help available to busy, infirm, or remotely located patients.

Now, a study conducted at the Neurogastroenterology Unit of Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester, England—and published in February by the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis—has found that combining teletherapy with hypnosis can offer an effective treatment for irritable bowel syndrome.

The researchers, lead by Shariq S. Hasan, a public health specialist, found that the unusual combination of mind-body therapy—coupled with the use of Skype—helped ease IBS pain and distress, even from afar, Psychology Today reports.

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder that affects roughly 10% to 15% of the population, and causes significant physical and psychological distress. People who have IBS suffer from frequent diarrhea, constipation, or both of these; as well as GI pain and other physical symptoms. For many, these symptoms generate considerable anxiety related to traveling due to fears of diarrhea and incontinence. The combination of distress and GI symptoms, including fears of losing control of one’s bowels, can thus make it difficult for IBS patients to make it to additional health care and other appointments.

Patients with IBS are frequently prescribed any of a variety of medications, as well as dietary changes, to manage symptoms. Yet, for some people, these approaches fail to result in adequate symptom relief.

That’s where hypnosis comes in: Hypnosis has been shown to help with a number of IBS-related symptoms. For example, once the patient is  in a more relaxed, yet focused state (often referred to as a trance state), he or she can more easily take in suggestions aimed at fostering greater bodily comfort; as well as decreased pain, stress, and anxiety.

For this study, the research team enrolled 20 IBS patients, who then received 12 sessions of hypnotherapy. The first session was conducted in person, but the remainder were conducted via Skype. The data from these 20 participants was then compared to that of another, original 1,000-person study.

The Skype study participants completed the same questionnaires as had the larger cohort—including measures of IBS severity, pain, anxiety and depression, and quality of life, Psychology Today notes. They also filled out a measure of noncolonic symptoms (such as nausea, heartburn, headaches, or lethargy), which frequently accompany IBS.

At the conclusion of the study, the researchers found significantly fewer participants reported having severe IBS symptoms. Hypnosis was also associated with statistically significant reductions in both noncolonic symptom severity and anxiety, and significant improvement in quality of life. The reduction in depression symptoms approached but did not quite reach statistical significance.

The data from the Skype group were also compared to those of participants in the larger, in-person hypnosis study. Although the degree of improvement on most outcomes was somewhat greater for in-person hypnosis, after adjusting for age, there was no statistically significant difference between the Skype and in-person groups with regard to improvement in IBS symptoms and pain. 

These findings seem important both for people who have inadequate relief from medications and dietary changes and in general for those dealing with painful gastrointestinal and related symptoms, the authors say.  It’s worth noting that the Skype study was small, and it will be important to conduct further research with larger numbers of participants.

Research contact: peter.whorwell@mft.nhs.uk

Move over, Americans: Europeans are way fitter!

July 9 ,2018

Most of us do not have the lithe, athletic “body beautiful” that we see on the covers of fitness magazines; but our anatomy gets us where we’re going every day, without too much huffing and puffing—so we assume we are in “good enough” shape.

Some of us even manage to go the gym for an hour or two a week, or to jog around the high school track. We assume that counts as physical fitness.

But we are wrong, according to the findings of an international study conducted in England, the Netherlands, and the United States, and published in April in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. In fact, the researchers found that most people do not objectively assess their level of physical activity.

For purposes of the study—which was fielded among 540 respondents from the United States; 748, from the Netherlands; and 248, from England –participants first reported their perceived level of activity during a specific week using a five-point scale, where answers range from inactive to very active. Then, researchers measured their actual level of activity using a fitness-tracking device worn on the respondent’s wrist.

Who miscalculates the most? In particular, U.S. respondents assumed that they are as active as their European counterparts, and older people believed that they have the same level of activity as young people.

For lead author Arie Kapteyn of the University of Southern California, the differences in how people perceive their fitness reflect their culture and environment. “People in different countries or … different age groups can [see] vastly different [meanings in] the same survey questions,” said Kapteyn, who is the executive director of the Center for Economic and Social Research at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences.

On the whole, however, Americans demonstrated less physical fitness than subjects from the other two countries. Most Americans, for instance, rely heavily on cars, while the Dutch usually walk or ride bicycles to get to work or run errands.

Overall, respondents from the Netherlands and England believe they have a “moderately active” lifestyle. Participants from the United States, on the other hand, swing heavily to the extremes—with their reports indicating that they were “very active” or “very inactive.”

Older people also over-reported their level of physical activity: Fully 60% of older participants in the U.S. have a more inactive lifestyle than they initially reported; with 42% among the same Dutch age group; and 32%among U.K. respondents.

“Individuals in different age groups simply have different standards of what it means to be physically active,” Kapteyn explained of the results. “They adjust their standards based on their circumstances, including their age.”

The gaps between self-reported data and data from a wearable device highlight a gap in measuring fitness levels. Self-evaluations tend to be inaccurate, Kapteyn added, since they can be interpreted differently by people, depending on their age group and geographic region.

“With the wide availability of low-cost activity tracking devices, we have the potential to make future studies more reliable,” she added.

Indeed, the American College of Sports Medicine said, in December 2016, that wearable technology would be the top fitness trend for 2017 and the near future.

For its own study ACSM surveyed health and fitness professionals worldwide and came up with five “standout” fitness trends for the next couple of years. Among them were:

  1. Wearable technology: Activity trackers, smartwatches, heart rate monitors, and GPS tracking devices;
  2. Body-weight training: Not limited to just push-ups and pull-ups, this trend allows people to get “back to basics” with fitness;
  3. High-intensity interval training: HIIT involves a circuit of short bursts of activity, followed by a short period of rest or recovery (performed in less than 30 minutes);
  4. Educated trainers: Professionals certified through programs accredited by the appropriate authorities; and
  5. Strength training: Rated as an essential part of a complete exercise program (along with aerobic exercise and flexibility) for all physical activity levels and genders.

Research contact: kapteyn@usc.edu