Guided imagery, along with medication, can reduce post-operative pain and anxiety in children, new study findings suggest.
“The need for interventions that reduce children’s acute pain on a short-term basis is growing,” Dr. Myra Martz Huth, at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Ohio, and colleagues point out in their report, published in the medical journal Pain. Hospitals stays being shortened, and dealing with kids’ pain at home is difficult. Their study was designed to test the effectiveness of a professionally developed program, “To Tame the Hurting Thing,” comprised of booklets, videotapes and audiotapes. Huth’s team enrolled 73 children ages 7 to 12 years who were scheduled to undergo tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy or both. The children were randomly assigned to the program or to a control group that received standard care. The videotape, given to patients during the three weeks before surgery, taught deep breathing and imagery techniques, while the audiotape included deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises, music, and suggestions for picturing a favorite place. The patients practiced with the audiotape between two and eight times prior to surgery, and repeated it 1 to 4 hours after surgery and in the home 22 to 24 hours after leaving the hospital. Pain was measured on a 0-100 point scale, and anxiety was assessed with the State Anxiety Inventory for Children. Compared with the standard-care group, children in the program group reported significantly less pain and anxiety after listening to the audiotape immediately after surgery. There was a similar effect at home, although the difference was not significant at a statistical level. The use of painkillers did not differ between groups. “We need to get better in adequately dosing pain medications in conjunction with using distraction techniques,” Huth comments in a Cincinnati Children’s Hospital press statement. “Nurses are beginning to think differently about how they practice and how they can help patients and families with nontraditional methods of pain management.” (SOURCE: Pain: Reuters Health News: August 2004.)