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Scientific Research on Hypnosis continues to grow...

Did you know the term Hypnotism was coined almost two hundred years ago by the scientist James Braid? 

James established hypnosis as a subject for scientific research and persuaded the medical establishment that it was a valid clinical technique.

Since then, there have been tens of thousands of scientific research studies, and I want to share a few of my favourites with you now. 

Hypnosis & Physiotherapy

Kinesither Rev 2015; 15(168): e1-e10

Click here for the abstract of the study

What you need to know:

  • The purpose of the article was to show the potential of hypnosis as a powerful treatment that can be very useless in a wide variety of physiotherapy environments. It attempts to explain what hypnosis is and how it works, as well as the challenges faced in defining hypnosis.
  • The evidence presented shows hypnosis can be effective for the treatment of pain, arthritis, TMJ dysfunction, fractures, CRPS, headache/migraines, fibromyalgia, phantom limb pain, IBS, stress/anxiety, burns and for improving sport performance.

Limitations:

  • Authors did not provide strength of each article. More research to create a systematic review or meta-analysis would be beneficial.
  • French to English translation means that grammar and spelling is occasionally incorrect. 

Hypnosis Enhances the Effects of Pain Education in Patients With Chronic Nonspecific Low Back Pain: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

The Journal of Pain, Vol 19, No 10 (October), 2018: pp 1103.e1-1103.e9

Click here for the abstract of the study

What you need to know:

  • The potential benefits of combining well establish pain education (PE) with clinical hypnosis (CH) has not yet been investigated in individuals with chronic pain. A total of 100 patients with chronic nonspecific low back pain were randomized to receive either: 1) PE alone, or 2) PE with CH.
  • The Pain Education provided was Explain Pain from NOI, which has been researched to effectively manage pain.
  • After 2 weeks, the Clinical Hypnosis group reported lower worst pain intensity, and more global perceived benefits at 2 weeks.
  • After 3 months, the Clinical Hypnosis group again reported decreased worst pain intensity, as well as catastrophizing.

Limitations:

  • As is the case with all psychosocial interventions, the therapist and patients were not blinded to treatment. The therapist providing the treatment was also aware of the research study, which can create bias. 

Hypnosis for burn wound care pain and anxiety: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Burns; Volume 44, Issue 8, December 2018, Pages 1870-18881

Click here for the abstract of the study

What you need to know:

  • Patients receiving hypnosis report lower pain and anxiety scores than control. One study showed pain decreased 3 points on a 1-10 scale in the hypnosis group compared to control, and anxiety 4 points on a scale of 1-10.
  • 6 studies were included in the study after assessed for their methodological quality.
  • Burn wound aftercare is reportedly stressful and extreme at times. If simple hypnosis techniques can help relax the patient and allow them to feel more empowered in their treatment, more positive outcomes can be achieved.

Limitations:

  • Hypnosis is not the sole anaesthetic used, but used an adjunct to treatment. Level of consciousness and ability to focus would effect the results.
  • More research needed to clinically guide what hypnotic techniques will be most beneficial to support reduction in pain and anxiety for burns patients.

Antenatal Hypnosis Training and Childbirth Experience: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Birth; Volume 40, Issue 4: December 2013

Click here for the abstract of the study

What you need to know:

  • Large, randomized study of 1,222 women who had never been pregnant were chosen for this study.  They were separated into one of three groups.  A hypnosis group where they were taught self hypnosis, another group that was taught relaxation techniques,  and finally, a group where the remaining women got the standard care.
  • Women in the hypnosis group experienced their childbirth as better as compared to the other two groups. (mean W‐DEQ score of 42.9 in the Hypnosis group, 47.2 in the Relaxation group, and 47.5 in the Care as usual group (p = 0.01).
  • Fear of childbirth has negative consequences for a woman's physical and emotional wellbeing. The most commonly used measurement tool for childbirth fear is the Wijma Delivery Expectancy Questionnaire (W-DEQ).

Limitations:

  • Because concealing treatment allocations from obstetricians, anaesthetists, midwives, and the personnel collecting data, double‐blinding a hypnosis intervention is difficult. 

Hypnosis can reduce pain in hospitalized older patients: a randomized controlled study

BMC Geriatr. 2016 January; 16:14

Click here for the abstract of the study

What you need to know:

  • 53 patients were included who experienced pain for more than 3 months with impact on daily life activities, intensity of > 4; adapted analgesic treatment; no cognitive impairment (mean age: 80.6).

  • Patients were separated into either the hypnosis or massage group.

  • Research found both hypnosis and massage reduced pain levels in both groups, but only the hypnosis group had a reduction in depression as well.

  • This study shows how active therapies like hypnosis can be similarly effective for pain management as passive therapies like massage for older patients. However, hypnosis can address the emotional aspects of pain in a way passive therapies cannot.

Limitations:

  • Small sample size may have reduced power of results. 
  • Due to short duration in hospital, hypnotic interventions were not as long as some research recommends. This may have limited the benefits of the hypnotic treatment.

New directions in hypnosis research: strategies for advancing the cognitive and clinical neuroscience of hypnosis

Neurosci Conscious. 2017 (1): nix004

Click here for the abstract of the study

What you need to know:

  • The article summarises how hypnosis creates a real change in the brain. The anterior cingulate and prefrontal cortices activate differently when a person is responding hypnotically, helping to explain how hypnosis works from a brain-based perspective.
  • Hypnosis treatments have been showed effective for a variety of issues such as pain relief, irritable bowel disorder, anxiety relief, and smoking cessation.

Limitations:

  • Researchers note three study design issues that could improve the impact of hypnotic research, and provide suggestions for going forward. 

Using hypnosis to accelerate the healing of bone fractures: A randomized controlled pilot study

Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine; Vol. 5, Iss. 2; March 1999: 67-75

Click here for the abstract of the study

What you need to know:

  • 12 otherwise healthy adults (21-49 years) with acute nondisplaced lateral malleolar fractures all received standard care, though a randomized segment were given hypnotic suggestion describing fracture healing.
  • After six weeks, the hypnosis group showed trends of the bones fusing back together at a rate similar to eight-and-a-half weeks, as well as improved ankle mobility; greater functional ability to descend stairs; lower use of analgesics in weeks 1, 3, and 9; and trends toward lower self-reported pain through 6 weeks.
  • Research suggests the body is capable of accelerated physical healing through hypnotic suggestion.

Limitations:

  • Results were not significant, but trending towards. This is likely due to small sample size and limited statistical power.
  • No follow-up study from this pilot has occurred.

Do you want even more hypnosis research?

With over 200 years of research, there's a lot out there. If you want to find research specifically about how hypnosis can help your condition or injury, head over to Google Scholar now.

Type in the search bar hypnosis+(insert your condition or injury). For example, if you have arthritis, you can type in hypnosis+arthritis (which provides 15,900 results!).

If you're just curious to learn more about hypnosis research generally, click on the link below to download a free compilation of 101 Proofs That Hypnosis Helps Heal Faster, Recover Stronger and Works in Medical Treatment. 

This document is compiled by a fellow hypnotist Dr. Richard K. Nongard as part of the ICBCH Professional Medical Hypnosis Certification Course.

Download my free "101 Proofs" now

Here's what to do next:

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