A new study has found out what we as hypnotherapists have known. Hypnosis, can help reduce a womens pain and anxiety during breast biopsy.
Dr. Elvira V. Lang, an associate professor of radiology at Harvard Medical School, worked on a study about the use of hypnosis for breast biopsies. In her studies she is quoted as saying, "The findings show that non-pharmacologic means can be very powerful -- without side effects,"
Their were 236 women at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center who were randomly assigned to three different types of care while they were undergoing large-core needle biopsy as outpatients. They were divided this way:Seventy-six of the women received standard care; 82 received what was called structured "empathetic attention" (a person assigned to the specific woman so that they could be responsive to the women's needs); and 78 women induced self-hypnotic relaxation under instruction from a trained research assistant (not necessarily a certified hypnotist).
Here is how the hypnosis training of the women was taught: They were instructed to roll their eyes upward, close their eyes, breathe deeply, focus on the sensation of floating, and then to imagine a pleasant setting. (We call this "safe place hypnosis" in the hypnosis world.) As can be expected, before the start of the biopsies, all the women showed heightened anxiety levels. During the biopsies that were performed, the standard care group showed an increase in anxiety significantly, the anxiety did not change in the empathy group, and most importantly, there was a significant decrease in anxiety in the hypnosis group.
Although all three groups did report pain during the procedure, it is interesting to note that, the women in the empathy and hypnosis groups reported less pain than those in the standard care group. Of significance is the fact that it was also found that the hypnosis group had the shortest procedure times and lowest cost. This can be a significant fact to mention to surgeons and hospital administrators both when marketing the use of hypnosis.
A result of this study was that prior assumptions about mind-body interventions where changed and most significant was that the research allowed medical people to realize that self-hypnosis for relaxation can be learned very quickly right on the procedure table without additional cost. This challenges the notion that extensive office visits or preparation are necessary so that we can start to actually utilize hypnosis in the pre-operative area.
Having used self-hypnosis myself for a recent breast surgery, I can tell you that it absolutely helps to diminish the pre-operative anxiety level. I also utilized self-hypnosis during the procedure itself which was done with local anesthesia only. Previously, I had utilized self-hypnosis during the repair of a ventral and umbilical hernia under local anesthesia. The doctor was surprised at how quiet I was. He kept on stopping every once in awhile to ask me if I was okay. I was in my "Safe Place" which, is a common hypnotic technique used.