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Keywords:

  • pain;
  • chronic pain;
  • acute pain;
  • hypnosis;
  • hypnotic analgesia

Abstract

This article both summarizes the previous reviews of randomized, controlled trials of hypnotic analgesia for the treatment of chronic and acute pain in adults, and reviews similar trials which have recently been published in the scientific literature. The results indicate that for both chronic and acute pain conditions: (1) hypnotic analgesia consistently results in greater decreases in a variety of pain outcomes compared to no treatment/standard care; (2) hypnosis frequently out-performs non-hypnotic interventions (e.g. education, supportive therapy) in terms of reductions in pain-related outcomes; and (3) hypnosis performs similarly to treatments that contain hypnotic elements (such as progressive muscle relaxation), but is not surpassed in efficacy by these alternative treatments. Factors that may influence the efficacy of hypnotic analgesia interventions are discussed, including, but not limited to, the patient's level of suggestibility, treatment outcome expectancy, and provider expertise. Based upon this body of literature, suggestions are offered for practitioners who are using, or would like to use, hypnosis for the amelioration of pain problems in their patients or clients. Copyright © 2008 British Society of Experimental & Clinical Hypnosis. Published by John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.