Psychological interventions for interoception in mental health disorders: A systematic review of randomised-controlled trials

Author: Nikolas Heim#1,2, Marina Bobou#3, Michal Tanzer3, Paul M Jenkinson4, Christiane Steinert1,5, Aikaterini Fotopoulou3
1 International Psychoanalytic University Berlin, Berlin, Germany.
2 Wellcome Centre for Human Neuroimaging, University College London, UK.
3 Research Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology, University College London, UK.
4 Institute for Social Neuroscience, Melbourne, Australia.
5 Department of Psychosomatics and Psychotherapy, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany.
Conference/Journal: Psychiatry Clin Neurosci
Date published: 2023 Jul 8
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1111/pcn.13576. , Word Count: 188

Disturbed interoception (i.e., the sensing, awareness, and regulation of internal body signals) has been found across several mental disorders, leading to the development of interoception-based interventions (IBIs). Searching PubMed and PsycINFO, we conducted the first systematic review of randomised-controlled trials (RCTs) investigating the efficacy of behavioural IBIs at improving interoception and target symptoms of mental disorders in comparison to a non-interoception-based control condition [CRD42021297993]. Thirty-one RCTs fulfilled inclusion criteria. Across all studies, a pattern emerged with 20 (64.5%) RCTs demonstrating IBIs to be more efficacious at improving interoception compared to control conditions. The most promising results were found for post-traumatic stress disorder, irritable bowel syndrome, fibromyalgia and substance use disorders. Regarding symptom improvement, the evidence was inconclusive. The IBIs were heterogenous in their approach to improving interoception. The quality of RCTs was moderate to good. In conclusion, IBIs are potentially efficacious at improving interoception for some mental disorders. In terms of symptom reduction, the evidence is less promising. Future research on the efficacy of IBIs is needed. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Keywords: body awareness; interoception; interoception-based interventions; mental disorders; randomised-controlled trial.

PMID: 37421414 DOI: 10.1111/pcn.13576