Mindfulness training, hypnosis reduce pain in hospital patients, study finds

UTAH, July 31 — New American research reports that mindfulness training can reduce levels of pain experienced by hospital patients. Hypnosis, tested on 244 patients reporting unmanageable pain, achieved even better results.

Researchers in Salt Lake City investigated whether mindfulness training and hypnotic suggestion could be used to relieve pain in hospital patients and reduce the prescription of painkillers.

Mindfulness training is a technique that teaches people to focus their attention fully on the present moment and to analyse the sensations they experience. It is now used in psychology and behavioral therapy (stress relief, issues surrounding food, preventing depression), as well as in medicine.

Hypnotic suggestion is increasingly used in the treatment of depression and sleep disorders, as well as for anesthetic purposes in operating theaters and emergency surgery.

The researchers selected 244 patients, hospitalised at the University of Utah Hospital, who reported experiencing unmanageable pain as a result of illness, disease or surgery. Over the course of a year, patients were randomly assigned to groups to receive a brief, scripted session in one of three interventions: mindfulness, hypnotic suggestion or pain coping education.

The findings, published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, show that the group who received mindfulness training experienced a 23 per cent reduction in pain. This rose to 29 per cent for those who received hypnotic suggestion, a level of relief close to that obtained by taking five milligrams of oxycodone, a powerful opioid painkiller.

In comparison, patients who took part in education sessions to learn to manage their pain only reported a 9 per cent reduction.

The results were even more surprising to the researchers since patients reported experiencing pain relief after just one 15-minute session, led by hospital social workers who completed basic training in each scripted method.

According to the study’s authors, these low-cost techniques could help reduce the prescription of opioid painkillers. The team plans to further study the effects of mind-body therapies as non-opioid means of alleviating pain by conducting a national study in thousands of patients across the US. — AFP-Relaxnews

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