Those who received hypnosis also spent almost 11 minutes less time in surgery and had their surgical costs reduced by about $773, mainly as a result of the shorter time.
Although people think that hypnosis strips a person of control, it actually does just the opposite, said Dr. David Spiegel, author of an accompanying editorial in the journal and Willson professor and associate chairman of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine.
"This is something that empowers patients," Spiegel explained. "If you're fighting, you think you're protecting yourself, but, actually, you're losing control, because you're getting into a struggle with your own body. You can teach people to float instead of fighting. You get the body comfortable and think more clearly. The weird thing is it actually works. If thoughts can make the body worse, it follows that thoughts could actually make the body feel better."
But will hypnosis catch on with health-care providers?
"We have this in-built skepticism of what goes on in the brain and the mind, and the idea is that the only real intervention is a physical one. Yet what supposedly distinguishes us is this huge brain on top of our bodies," Spiegel said. "It seems more scientific and desirable to give drugs than it does to talk to people and have them reorganize the way they're managing their bodies."
There are other obstacles. Many doctors find it more expedient to write a prescription than learn to perform hypnosis. Also, there's no industry pushing the technique as there is with drugs, Spiegel said.
On the positive side, little investment is needed to get a hypnosis program going, Montgomery said. "A psychologist or nurse could get training in a short period of time," he said. "It's not that involved."
Dr. Darlene Miltenburg, assistant professor of surgery at Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicin
All rights reserved