Experiences of healing therapy in patients with irritable bowel syndrome and inflammatory bowel disease

Andrew Soundy, Rhonda T Lee, Tom Kingstone, Sukhdev Singh, Pankaj R Shah, Lesley Roberts

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The use and value of different complementary therapies requires investigation. In particular, qualitative research is required to understand the perceptions and experiences of patients who undergo healing therapy as one type of complementary therapy. The aim of this research is to consider patients perceptions and experiences following a course of healing therapy.
Twenty two patients took part in this study. This included 13 patients with irritable bowel disease (3 male, 10 female, 47.6 ± 15.0 years), 6 patients with ulcerative colitis (3 male, 3 female, 48.5 ± 25.6 years) and 3 female patients with Crohn's Disease (45.0 ± 5.2 years). Each patient undertook a single semi-structured interview following a course of healing therapy. The data was analysed using a thematic analysis.
Three broad themes were identified from patient interviews (1) The understanding and expectation of healing (2) Experiences and reflection on healing (3) Impact and outcome of healing. The details of each theme are explored within the text, often revealing a unique experience of healing therapy.
Patients were open towards the benefits that could be attained by healing, although most patients were not sure what healing would entail. Some patients expected to be relaxed by the sessions. However, the most consistent reports were that patients experienced a relaxing sensation that was generated within the session and lasted for a time period after the sessions. In addition to this the healing appeared to be associated with patients feeling more tolerant of their symptoms. Patients valued the therapist and their input into the healing process. It should be noted however, that this report cannot consider the efficacy of the treatment. Further details and experiences are considered within the article, including one negative experience.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106
JournalBMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2015


  • Healing
  • Thematic analysis
  • Therapeutic touch
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Patient experiences
  • Complementary therapy
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Qualitative


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