Nurse-led study will examine hypnosis to ease post-op pain
Clinical nurse researcher Ana-Maria Toth will use her hypnosis training to investigate its effectiveness in easing pain for patients after colectomy
Can hypnosis help patients cope better with pain following surgery? A nurse researcher is looking into the method as an alternative to medication.
At least 40 patients needed for hypnosis study
The innovative study was launched by Ana-Maria Toth, a clinical nurse researcher at Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, who is hoping to recruit at least 40 patients to take part.
Ms Toth, who has a degree in medical hypnosis, will explore whether the technique can help people recovering from a colectomy – surgery to remove all or part of the colon.
She said the idea for the study began to take shape when she was working as a junior sister on a colorectal surgery ward at Musgrove Park Hospital, Taunton, and became interested in post-operative pain management, which generally involves a combination of drugs, including opioids.
‘It prompted me to think about whether there was something else we could offer our patients that doesn’t involve medication, so I started researching hypnosis and saw that it had been used elsewhere, in breast surgery and for patients recovering from burns,’ she said.
She completed a degree in medical hypnosis at the University of Birmingham in her spare time and launched the Hypnopal study in July, with funding from hospital charity Love Musgrove.
‘The main focus is on pain, but it also looks at patients’ recovery, their length of stay in hospital, how fast they mobilise and get back to eating and drinking,’ said Ms Toth, who has already recruited some participants.
Intervention group will receive three hypnosis sessions on top of standard care
The study will compare results for a group of patients who receive hypnosis on top of standard care and a control group who will be treated as normal.
Patients in the intervention group will be offered three hypnosis sessions – soon after surgery, 24 hours after their operation and then three days later.
Ms Toth said some might be wary of hypnosis after seeing it used on television shows but hoped ‘curiosity wins out over fear’ and people would give it a go. At the very least, she hoped patients would find the experience relaxing.
‘We’re using hypnosis in a positive way to see if it benefits a patient’s care. If it proves to be beneficial, then there’s scope for an even larger trial to be run across the country in the future,’ she said.
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