New Research Published: Mind-Body Therapies Reduce Acute Hospital Pain

mindbody acute pain reductionMy colleagues and I just published a new paper in the Journal of General Internal Medicine demonstrating that mindfulness training and hypnotic suggestion significantly reduced acute pain experienced by hospital inpatients.  After participating in a single, 15-minute session of one of these mind-body therapies, patients reported an immediate decrease in pain levels similar to what one might expect from an opioid painkiller.

This study is the first to compare the effects of mindfulness and hypnosis on acute pain in the hospital setting.

The yearlong study’s 244 participants were patients at the University of Utah Hospital in Salt Lake City who reported experiencing unmanageable pain as the result of illness, disease, or surgical procedures.  Willing patients were randomly assigned to receive a brief, scripted session in one of three interventions: mindfulness, hypnotic suggestion or pain coping education.  Hospital social workers who completed basic training in each scripted method provided the interventions to patients.

While all three types of intervention reduced patients’ anxiety and increased their feelings of relaxation, patients who participated in the hypnotic suggestion intervention experienced a 29% reduction in pain, and patients who participated in the mindfulness intervention experienced a 23% reduction in pain, compared to a 9% reduction experienced by those who participated in the pain coping intervention. Patients receiving the two mind-body therapies also reported a significant decrease in their perceived need for opioid medication.

About a third of the study participants receiving one of the two mind-body therapies achieved close to a 30% reduction in pain intensity. This clinically significant level of pain relief is roughly equivalent to the pain relief produced by five milligrams of oxycodone.

My previous research has indicated that an 8-week long course of Mindfulness-Oriented Recovery Enhancement can be an effective way to reduce chronic pain symptoms and decrease prescription opioid misuse.  This new study added a new dimension to my work by revealing the promise of brief mind-body therapies for acute pain patients.

It was really exciting and quite amazing to see such dramatic results from a single mind-body session. Given our nation’s current opioid epidemic, the implications of this study are potentially huge. These brief mind-body therapies could be cost-effectively and feasibly integrated into standard medical care as useful adjuncts to pain management.

My interdisciplinary team at Center for Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development plan to continue to investigate mind-body therapies as non-opioid means of alleviating pain by conducting a national replication study in a sample of thousands of patients in multiple hospitals around the country.

Because of its public health relevance, so far the study has been covered by more than 40 television stations around the country. Here is a brief clip about the study.

 

TRANSLATING BASIC BIOBEHAVIORAL SCIENCE INTO INTEGRATIVE HEALTH: 2017 C-MIIND Research Symposium

mattieu-meditate
Image of Mattieu Ricard provided by the Mind and Life Institute

Please join us for the University of Utah’s new Center on Mindfulness and Integrative Health Intervention Development’s (C-MIIND) first symposium, which focuses on “Translating Basic Biobehavioral Science into Integrative Health.”

The keynote will be delivered by Susan Bauer-Wu, PhD, RN, FAAN, President of the Mind & Life Institute, the world’s premier multidisciplinary organization for the scientific study of mindfulness and meditation, founded in 1991 by the Dalai Lama and neurobiologist Francisco Varela. Dr. Bauer-Wu will discuss how scientific research on ancient contemplative practices is positively impacting healthcare, education, and society.

Next, Brett Froeliger, PhD, Associate Professor of Neuroscience at the Medical University of South Carolina, will discuss the neural mechanisms of emotion dysregulation in addiction as a target for treatment development research.

Finally, C-MIIND Director Eric Garland, PhD, LCSW, Associate Dean for Research at the University of Utah College of Social Work, will discuss the latest discoveries from his psychophysiological research on mind-body interventions for addiction, stress, and chronic pain, with a specific focus on addressing the prescription opioid epidemic.

This event is free and lunch is included, however pre-registration is requested: http://bit.ly/cmiind2017symposium

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

11:30 am –  12:00 pm

Lunch & Networking

12:00 pm – 1:30 pm

Keynote & Presentations

Okazaki Community Meeting Room (155)

University of Utah College of Social Work

395 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City