Hypnosis can be an effective pain management tool for children undergoing cancer treatment, according to researchers.
A clinical trial, conducted by Dr Christina Liossi at the University of Southampton, compared the effects of a local anaesthetic cream (Emla) with a combination of cream and hypnosis in 45 children aged between six and 16 years of age, all of whom were undergoing lumbar punctures as part of their cancer treatment.
The results revealed that patients receiving both local anaesthetic and hypnosis were less anxious before the procedure, felt less anxiety and pain during the procedure itself, and were observed to be less distressed.
"Paediatric pain is a health care issue that results in significant suffering," Dr Liossi commented.
"Pain from invasive medical procedures has significant adverse emotional and social consequences for children and their families.
"Physical and psychological responses to pain not only affect children's health directly, but also may predispose them to develop chronic pain in adulthood," she added.
Dr Liossi said that the prevention and relief of children's pain was often inadequate, even though "excellent analgesic effects" could be achieved using standard approaches such as hypnosis.