Schnur, J.B., Bovbjerg, D.H., David, D., Tatrow, K., Goldfarb, A.B., Silverstein, J.H., . . . Montgomery, G.H. (2008). Hypnosis decreases presurgical distress in excisional breast biopsy patients. Anesthesia and Analgesia, 106, 440–444.doi: 10.1213/ane.0b013e31815edb13
To test the hypothesis that presurgical distress would be lower in a group that received hypnosis compared to an attentional control group
On the day of surgery, participants completed data collection instruments prior to study interventions and 15 minutes postintervention. Both the hypnosis and control interventions were standardized to last for 15 minutes. The hypnosis intervention included debunking common misconceptions, giving the patient an opportunity to ask questions, and presentation of a scripted relaxation-based induction, guided imagery, deepening, and surgery-specific suggestions for decreasing pain, nausea, and distress. Patients in the control group spent an equal amount of time with study personnel in sessions of empathic listening and supportive remarks from study personnel. All personnel providing interventions were clinical psychologists with advanced training in use of hypnosis in the medical setting.
Patients were undergoing the diagnostic phase of care.
A single-blind, randomized controlled trial design was used.
Patients in the hypnosis group demonstrated significantly lower general upset (d = 0.85, p < 0.001), depressed mood (d = 0.67, p < 0.002), and anxiety (d = 0.85, p < 0.001), and higher relaxation (d = 0.76, p < 0.001) on VAS and POMS scores.
Findings demonstrate that a brief hypnosis intervention reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety and increased relaxation prior to excisional breast biopsy.
The study had a small sample, with less than 100 participants.
Hypnosis can be an effective intervention to reduce distress prior to breast biopsy. Additional research to determine longer-term effects on post-biopsy patient symptoms is warranted. This intervention was accomplished in 15 minutes, suggesting that hypnosis can be a practical intervention in the clinical setting. This type of intervention does require specific expertise.