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Biofeedback for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome.
Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 11 12; 2019(11)CD

Abstract

BACKGROUND

Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a prevalent condition that currently lacks highly effective therapies for its management. Biofeedback has been proposed as a therapy that may help individuals learn to exert conscious control over sympatho-vagal balance as an indirect method of symptom management.

OBJECTIVES

Our primary objective was to assess the efficacy and safety of biofeedback-based interventions for IBS in adults and children.

SEARCH METHODS

We searched the Cochrane Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Group Specialized Trials Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and the Allied and Complementary Medicine Database (AMED) from inception to 24 July 2019. We also searched reference lists from published trials, trial registries, device manufacturers, conference proceedings, theses, and dissertations.

SELECTION CRITERIA

We judged randomized controlled trials to be eligible for inclusion if they met the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback definition of biofeedback, and if they compared a biofeedback intervention to an active, sham, or no-treatment control for the management of IBS.

DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS

Two authors independently screened trials for inclusion, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias. Primary outcomes were IBS global or clinical improvement scores and overall quality of life measures. Secondary outcome measures were adverse events, assessments of stool frequency and consistency, changes in abdominal pain, depression, and anxiety. For dichotomous outcomes, we calculated the risk ratio (RR) and 95% confidence interval (CI). For continuous outcomes, we calculated the mean difference (MD) and 95% CI. We used GRADE criteria to assess the overall certainty of the evidence.

MAIN RESULTS

We identified eight randomized trials with a total of 300 adult participants for our analysis. We did not identify any trials in children. Four trials assessed thermal biofeedback. One trial assessed rectosigmoidal biofeedback. Two trials assessed heart rate variability biofeedback. Two trials assessed electrocutaneous biofeedback. Comparators were: no treatment (symptom monitoring group; three studies), attention control (pseudomeditation; two studies), relaxation control (one study), counseling (two studies), hypnotherapy (one study), standard therapy (one study), and sham biofeedback (one study). We judged all trials to have a high or unclear risk of bias. Global/Clinical improvement The clinical benefit of biofeedback plus standard therapy compared to standard therapy alone was uncertain (RR 4.20, 95% CI 1.40 to 12.58; 1 study, 20 participants; very low-certainty evidence). The same study also compared biofeedback plus standard therapy to sham biofeedback plus standard therapy. The clinical benefit in the biofeedback group was uncertain (RR 2.33, 95% CI 1.13 to 4.80; 1 study, 20 participants; very low-certainty evidence). The clinical benefit of heart rate biofeedback compared to hypnotherapy was uncertain when measured with the IBS severity scoring system (IBS-SSS) (MD -58.80, 95% CI -109.11 to -8.49; 1 study, 61 participants; low-certainty evidence). Compared to counseling, the effect of heart rate biofeedback was unclear when measured with a composite symptom reduction score (MD 7.03, 95% CI -51.07 to 65.13; 1 study, 29 participants; low-certainty evidence) and when evaluated for clinical response (50% improvement) (RR 1.09, 95% CI 0.48 to 2.45; 1 study, 29 participants; low-certainty evidence). The clinical benefit of thermal biofeedback used in a multi-component psychological intervention (MCPI) compared to no treatment was uncertain when measured with a composite clinical symptom reduction score (MD 30.34, 95% CI 8.47 to 52.21; 3 studies, 101 participants; very low-certainty evidence), and when evaluated as clinical response (50% improvement) (RR 2.12, 95% CI 1.24 to 3.62; 3 studies, 101 participants; very low-certainty evidence). Compared to attention control, the effects of thermal biofeedback within an MCPI were unclear when measured with a composite clinical symptom reduction score (MD 4.02, 95% CI -21.41 to 29.45; 2 studies, 80 participants; very low-certainty evidence) and when evaluated as clinical response (50% improvement) (RR 1.10, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.69, 2 studies, 80 participants; very low-certainty evidence). Quality of life A single trial used overall quality of life as an outcome measure, and reported that both the biofeedback and cognitive therapy groups improved after treatment. The trial did not note any between-group differences, and did not report any outcome data. Adverse events Only one of the eight trials explicitly reported adverse events. This study reported no adverse events in either the biofeedback or cognitive therapy groups (RD 0.00, 95% CI -0.12 to 0.12; 29 participants; low-certainty evidence).

AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS

There is currently not enough evidence to assess whether biofeedback interventions are effective for controlling symptoms of IBS. Given the positive results reported in small trials to date, biofeedback deserves further study in people with IBS. Future research should include active control groups that use high provider-participant interaction, in an attempt to balance non-specific effects of interventions between groups, and report both commonly used outcome measures (e.g. IBS-SSS) and historical outcome measures (e.g. the composite primary symptom reduction (CPSR) score) to allow for meta-analysis with previous studies. Future studies should be explicit in their reporting of adverse events.

Authors+Show Affiliations

National University of Natural Medicine, Helfgott Research Institute, 2220 SW 1st Ave, Portland, OR, USA, 97102. University of Technology Sydney, Australian Research Center in Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Ultimo, New South Wales, Australia.Bastyr University, Naturopathic Medicine, 14500 Juanita Dr. NE, Kenmore, WA, USA.Bastyr University, Kenmore, WA, USA.Bastyr University, Kenmore, WA, USA.University of South Wales, Cardiff, UK.University of Tasmania, School of Medicine, Hobart, Australia. University of Technology Sydney, Australian Research Centre for Complementary and Integrative Medicine, Sydney, Australia.Bastyr University, Kenmore, WA, USA.Dalhousie University, Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, 5790 University Avenue, Halifax, NS, Canada, B3H 1V7.

Pub Type(s)

Journal Article
Meta-Analysis
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
Systematic Review

Language

eng

PubMed ID

31713856

Citation

Goldenberg, Joshua Z., et al. "Biofeedback for Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome." The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, vol. 2019, no. 11, 2019.
Goldenberg JZ, Brignall M, Hamilton M, et al. Biofeedback for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019;2019(11).
Goldenberg, J. Z., Brignall, M., Hamilton, M., Beardsley, J., Batson, R. D., Hawrelak, J., Lichtenstein, B., & Johnston, B. C. (2019). Biofeedback for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, 2019(11). https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD012530.pub2
Goldenberg JZ, et al. Biofeedback for Treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2019 11 12;2019(11) PubMed PMID: 31713856.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - JOUR T1 - Biofeedback for treatment of irritable bowel syndrome. AU - Goldenberg,Joshua Z, AU - Brignall,Matthew, AU - Hamilton,Michelle, AU - Beardsley,Jennifer, AU - Batson,Richard D, AU - Hawrelak,Jason, AU - Lichtenstein,Brad, AU - Johnston,Bradley C, Y1 - 2019/11/12/ PY - 2020/11/12/pmc-release PY - 2019/11/13/entrez PY - 2019/11/13/pubmed PY - 2020/4/17/medline JF - The Cochrane database of systematic reviews JO - Cochrane Database Syst Rev VL - 2019 IS - 11 N2 - BACKGROUND: Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a prevalent condition that currently lacks highly effective therapies for its management. Biofeedback has been proposed as a therapy that may help individuals learn to exert conscious control over sympatho-vagal balance as an indirect method of symptom management. OBJECTIVES: Our primary objective was to assess the efficacy and safety of biofeedback-based interventions for IBS in adults and children. SEARCH METHODS: We searched the Cochrane Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) Group Specialized Trials Register, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), and the Allied and Complementary Medicine Database (AMED) from inception to 24 July 2019. We also searched reference lists from published trials, trial registries, device manufacturers, conference proceedings, theses, and dissertations. SELECTION CRITERIA: We judged randomized controlled trials to be eligible for inclusion if they met the Association for Applied Psychophysiology and Biofeedback definition of biofeedback, and if they compared a biofeedback intervention to an active, sham, or no-treatment control for the management of IBS. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two authors independently screened trials for inclusion, extracted data, and assessed risk of bias. Primary outcomes were IBS global or clinical improvement scores and overall quality of life measures. Secondary outcome measures were adverse events, assessments of stool frequency and consistency, changes in abdominal pain, depression, and anxiety. For dichotomous outcomes, we calculated the risk ratio (RR) and 95% confidence interval (CI). For continuous outcomes, we calculated the mean difference (MD) and 95% CI. We used GRADE criteria to assess the overall certainty of the evidence. MAIN RESULTS: We identified eight randomized trials with a total of 300 adult participants for our analysis. We did not identify any trials in children. Four trials assessed thermal biofeedback. One trial assessed rectosigmoidal biofeedback. Two trials assessed heart rate variability biofeedback. Two trials assessed electrocutaneous biofeedback. Comparators were: no treatment (symptom monitoring group; three studies), attention control (pseudomeditation; two studies), relaxation control (one study), counseling (two studies), hypnotherapy (one study), standard therapy (one study), and sham biofeedback (one study). We judged all trials to have a high or unclear risk of bias. Global/Clinical improvement The clinical benefit of biofeedback plus standard therapy compared to standard therapy alone was uncertain (RR 4.20, 95% CI 1.40 to 12.58; 1 study, 20 participants; very low-certainty evidence). The same study also compared biofeedback plus standard therapy to sham biofeedback plus standard therapy. The clinical benefit in the biofeedback group was uncertain (RR 2.33, 95% CI 1.13 to 4.80; 1 study, 20 participants; very low-certainty evidence). The clinical benefit of heart rate biofeedback compared to hypnotherapy was uncertain when measured with the IBS severity scoring system (IBS-SSS) (MD -58.80, 95% CI -109.11 to -8.49; 1 study, 61 participants; low-certainty evidence). Compared to counseling, the effect of heart rate biofeedback was unclear when measured with a composite symptom reduction score (MD 7.03, 95% CI -51.07 to 65.13; 1 study, 29 participants; low-certainty evidence) and when evaluated for clinical response (50% improvement) (RR 1.09, 95% CI 0.48 to 2.45; 1 study, 29 participants; low-certainty evidence). The clinical benefit of thermal biofeedback used in a multi-component psychological intervention (MCPI) compared to no treatment was uncertain when measured with a composite clinical symptom reduction score (MD 30.34, 95% CI 8.47 to 52.21; 3 studies, 101 participants; very low-certainty evidence), and when evaluated as clinical response (50% improvement) (RR 2.12, 95% CI 1.24 to 3.62; 3 studies, 101 participants; very low-certainty evidence). Compared to attention control, the effects of thermal biofeedback within an MCPI were unclear when measured with a composite clinical symptom reduction score (MD 4.02, 95% CI -21.41 to 29.45; 2 studies, 80 participants; very low-certainty evidence) and when evaluated as clinical response (50% improvement) (RR 1.10, 95% CI 0.72 to 1.69, 2 studies, 80 participants; very low-certainty evidence). Quality of life A single trial used overall quality of life as an outcome measure, and reported that both the biofeedback and cognitive therapy groups improved after treatment. The trial did not note any between-group differences, and did not report any outcome data. Adverse events Only one of the eight trials explicitly reported adverse events. This study reported no adverse events in either the biofeedback or cognitive therapy groups (RD 0.00, 95% CI -0.12 to 0.12; 29 participants; low-certainty evidence). AUTHORS' CONCLUSIONS: There is currently not enough evidence to assess whether biofeedback interventions are effective for controlling symptoms of IBS. Given the positive results reported in small trials to date, biofeedback deserves further study in people with IBS. Future research should include active control groups that use high provider-participant interaction, in an attempt to balance non-specific effects of interventions between groups, and report both commonly used outcome measures (e.g. IBS-SSS) and historical outcome measures (e.g. the composite primary symptom reduction (CPSR) score) to allow for meta-analysis with previous studies. Future studies should be explicit in their reporting of adverse events. SN - 1469-493X UR - https://www.unboundmedicine.com/medline/citation/31713856/Biofeedback_for_treatment_of_irritable_bowel_syndrome_ L2 - https://doi.org/10.1002/14651858.CD012530.pub2 DB - PRIME DP - Unbound Medicine ER -