Hypnotherapy trial reduces pain and anxiety in children with burns

December 9, 2016, University of Queensland
Hypnotherapy trial reduces pain and anxiety in children with burns
Stephen Chester. Credit: University of Queensland

A world-first study has found medical hypnosis can reduce pain and anxiety in children being treated for serious burns.

The University of Queensland's Child Health Research Centre (CHRC) analysed whether hypnotherapy decreased , anxiety, and stress for undergoing potentially painful changes to their dressings.

UQ medical student and PhD candidate Stephen Chester conducted a randomised controlled trial at Brisbane's Lady Cilento Children's Hospital involving 62 burns patients aged between four and 16.

"The children were randomly assigned to either the hypnotherapy or standard care group, and measures of pain, anxiety, stress, and wound healing were taken at each dressing change," Mr Chester said.

"Children in the hypnotherapy group reported 70 per cent lower pain and 67 per cent lower anxiety scores on average, compared with those receiving standard care before their second dressing change.

"Before the third dressing change, the hypnotherapy group had 90 per cent lower pain and 84 per cent lower anxiety. These results are clinically significant."

Mr Chester said the parents of children in the hypnotherapy group also reported significantly lower 'worst pain' ratings on behalf of their children across all dressing changes.

"Children receiving hypnotherapy had significantly lower heart rates before and after their third dressing change."

Heart rate is used as an objective physiological measure of pain and stress, with lower rates generally indicating lower pain and stress.

Mr Chester said previous research had shown adults with burns benefited significantly from hypnotherapy through reduced pain and anxiety, lower medication usage, shorter hospital stays, and cost savings.

"Children and teenagers are generally more responsive to hypnotherapy and therapeutic suggestion than adults so we were very keen to investigate medical hypnosis in children with serious burns," he said.

"We are not replacing pain and relieving drugs, but examining whether medical hypnosis and medication together can help these young patients who have often been through a very traumatic time."

Mr Chester, from the UQ-Ochsner Clinical School in New Orleans, Louisiana, trained as a hypnotherapist with the American Society of Clinical Hypnosis last year.

"I initially approached it with a certain level of scepticism but soon realised anaesthetists and dentists already use these techniques without labelling them as hypnosis or hypnotherapy.

"One of the great things about it is that it has no side-effects and it's completely safe."

Mr Chester said clinical benefits demonstrated in the trial could extend beyond the burns ward.

"Children are often anxious when they're being treated for fractures and asthma, and about injections and needles."

"If more clinicians were trained in we could reduce the stress for many children, their families, and the hospital staff who treat them," Mr Chester said.

The research protocol is published in Trials.

Explore further: Hypnosis provides effective treatment for IBS

More information: Stephen J. Chester et al. Effectiveness of medical hypnosis for pain reduction and faster wound healing in pediatric acute burn injury: study protocol for a randomized controlled trial, Trials (2016). DOI: 10.1186/s13063-016-1346-9

Related Stories

Hypnosis provides effective treatment for IBS

April 2, 2012
Hypnosis can be a highly effective treatment for the bowel disorder IBS. Studies involving a total of 346 patients conducted by researchers at The Sahlgrenska Academy of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, showed that hypnotherapy ...

Researcher: Hypnosis should be offered to patients with IBS

December 18, 2012
Hypnotherapy helps fight IBS symptoms. These are the findings of a thesis from Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden which proposes implementing this treatment method into the care of severe sufferers of this ...

Relieving the effects of surgery with hypnosis

July 19, 2011
When Don Gotler was undergoing two procedures preparing him for treatment for his esophageal cancer last year, his doctor asked if he wanted to take part in the hospital's new hypnotherapy program. Combined with anesthesia, ...

Study: Care providers underestimate pain during pediatric burn dressing change

September 1, 2016
Dressing changes have been identified as one of the major contributors to perceived pain during burn care, and so it is important that pain be assessed accurately. But a new study from the Center for Pediatric Trauma Research ...

Watching cartoons could help children overcome anxiety of dental treatment

August 8, 2016
Watching cartoons through video glasses during dental treatment could help lessen children's anxiety and distress as well as reducing disruptive behaviour, according to a randomized controlled trial published in Acta Odontologia ...

Review: Some nonpharmacologic Tx effective in peds GI disorders

February 9, 2015
(HealthDay)—Certain nonpharmacologic treatments are effective in pediatric abdominal pain-related functional gastrointestinal disorders (AP-FGIDs), according to a review published online Feb. 9 in Pediatrics.

Recommended for you

Short-course treatment for combat-related PTSD offers expedited path to recovery

January 23, 2018
Symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can be debilitating and standard treatment can take months, often leaving those affected unable to work or care for their families. But, a new study demonstrated that many ...

Priming can negate stressful aspects of negative sporting environments, study finds

January 23, 2018
The scene is ubiquitous in sports: A coach yells at players, creating an environment where winning is the sole focus and mistakes are punished. New research from the University of Kansas shows that when participants find ...

Social and emotional skills linked to better student learning

January 23, 2018
Students with well-developed and adaptive social and emotional behaviours are most likely to excel in school, according to UNSW researchers in educational psychology.

Study of learning and memory problems in OCD helps young people unlock potential at school

January 22, 2018
Adolescents with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) have widespread learning and memory problems, according to research published today. The findings have already been used to assist adolescents with OCD obtain the help ...

People with prosthetic arms less affected by common illusion

January 22, 2018
People with prosthetic arms or hands do not experience the "size-weight illusion" as strongly as other people, new research shows.

Intensive behavior therapy no better than conventional support in treating teenagers with antisocial behavior

January 19, 2018
Research led by UCL has found that intensive and costly multisystemic therapy is no better than conventional therapy in treating teenagers with moderate to severe antisocial behaviour.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.