Dr Umair Akbani

Looking at which classification of IBS responds best to gut-focused hypnotherapy.

F1/F2 Research Awards Winner

“Evaluating the performance of a novel classification system for Irritable Bowel Syndrome in predicting outcomes to gut-focused hypnotherapy.”

It is thought that hypnotherapy can modulate some of the key
pathophysiological processes including visceral pain sensitivity and motility and, additionally, can improve coping, resilience, self-regulation skills. Unfortunately, access to hypnotherapy is very limited and expensive and therefore there is a need to find out whether there is type of IBS patient who might benefit most from this treatment and conversely, those who would not.

Recent work carried out in Leeds has shown that IBS patient’s symptom profiles can be sub-grouped into 7 distinct IBS sub-types with varying degrees of gastrointestinal, extraintestinal symptoms and psychological comorbidity. That data also  suggested that patients with predominantly psychological symptoms profiles may potentially be more likely to benefit from psychological interventions such as gut-focused hypnotherapy than patients than other IBS subtypes.

The aim of this study will be to prospectively sub-type patients already undergoing gut-focused hypnotherapy for IBS at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, using this novel IBS classification system.

‘This will be done by classifying the patient symptoms from their patient history and then using patient questionnaires to determine their response to the hypnotherapy treatment. We will then compare the subtypes against those who respond well or poorly to the hypnotherapy treatment. The team hypothesise that response rates to gut focused hypnotherapy will be higher in those patients who belong to symptom clusters with higher levels of psychological comorbidity.

“IBS is a complex and often misunderstood illness and, while this project does not aim to create a panacea for those affected, it is exciting to work on something which has the potential for real world application.”

“Indeed, we hope that our study will provide evidence to help select the right patients for hypnotherapy in the future, to improve treatment outcomes and improve access to this effective form of treatment, enabling it to be offered at an earlier stage to the patients that are most likely to benefit.”

Why did you choose this project?

“My ambition is to practise as an Academic Gastroenterologist. One of the reasons I became involved in this project was it gave me the opportunity to work within prestigious research centres, and under the mentorship of world class research clinicians.”

"I hold this award with great distinction and would like to use this opportunity to give great thanks to Dr Vasant and everyone in the research team who have allowed me to participate. This award is fiercely contested among fantastic, intelligent and hardworking men and women, and I feel humbled to be selected as a recipient. Guts UK have been doing incredible work for the last 50 years and have funded countless projects with the central aim of helping patients who suffer from all GI related problems. I hope I can carry on the tradition of producing outstanding research with real world benefit just as my predecessors who have been awarded this prize have."

- Dr Umair Akbani

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