OBJECTIVE: This study was designed to develop and to test a home-based, guided imagery treatment protocol, using audio and video recordings, that is easy for health care professionals and patients to use, is inexpensive, and is applicable to a wide range of health care settings.
METHODS: Thirty-four children, 6 to 15 years of age, with a physician diagnosis of functional abdominal pain were assigned randomly to receive 2 months of standard medical care with or without home-based, guided imagery treatment. Children who received only standard medical care initially received guided imagery treatment after 2 months. Children were monitored for 6 months after completion of guided imagery treatment.
RESULTS: All treatment materials were reported to be self-explanatory, enjoyable, and easy to understand and to use. The compliance rate was 98.5%. In an intention-to-treat analysis, 63.1% of children in the guided imagery treatment group were treatment responders, compared with 26.7% in the standard medical care–only group (P = .03; number needed to treat: 3). Per-protocol analysis showed similar results (73.3% vs 28.6% responders). When the children in the standard medical care group also received guided imagery treatment, 61.5% became treatment responders. Treatment effects were maintained for 6 months (62.5% responders).
CONCLUSION: Guided imagery treatment plus medical care was superior to standard medical care only for the treatment of abdominal pain, and treatment effects were sustained over a long period.