Calming words can help ease anxiety before surgery

Calming words can help ease anxiety before surgery

Conversational hypnosis might be more effective in making patients comfortable prior to surgery than commonly used medications, according to a new study.

Research, led by Dr. Emmanual Boselli of Edouard Herriot Hospital in Lyons, France, placed 100 patients undergoing hand surgery in two groups. Fifty underwent conversational hypnosis where physicians provided calming words and a focus on the patient’s attention while being given regional anesthesia. The other 50 were given 25 milligrams of oral hydroxyzine, a medication used to treat anxiety and tension, 30 minutes to an hour before the induction of anesthesia.

Patient levels of relaxation were assessed using an objective test called the analgesic/nociception index (ANI), which is based on heart rate variability. When patients are extremely anxious and stressed, the score is zero, and when they are completely relaxed, it’s 100.

Patients measured an average ANI of 51 before and 78 after conversational hypnosis, whereas those who had medication averaged 63 before and 70 after. The average comfort scale of those who have received hypnosis was 6.7 before and 9.3 after, while patients who had medication averaged 7.8 before and 8.3 after.

“The anesthesiologist uses calm, positive words to divert the patient’s attention and help him or her feel more comfortable,” Dr. Boselli said in a news release. “It reflects a change in the way the physician interacts with the patient and takes just a few minutes.”

Dr. John Jaworowicz, chief anesthesiologist at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center in Normal, Ill., says the technique has been used for years.

“It was called ‘vocal local’ when I was in training,” says Dr. Jaworowicz. “Many anesthesia providers carry on a conversation with the patient as they are placing monitors or prepping the skin for an injection.”

Dr. Jaworowicz feels that this method increases patient satisfaction as it builds rapport between the physician and the patient. It can also improve recovery of the patient.

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One Comment

  1. I thought this to be interesting.

About the Author

Lynn Hutley
Lynn Hutley

Lynn Hutley, health enews contributor, is coordinator of public affairs and marketing at Advocate BroMenn Medical Center and Advocate Eureka Hospital in central Illinois. Having grown up in a family-owned drug store, it is no surprise that Lynn has spent almost 18 years working in the health care industry. She has a degree in human resources management from Illinois State University and is always ready to tackle Trivia Night.