Research: BUTLER and colleagues,

Listed in Issue 118


BUTLER and colleagues, Department of Psychiatry, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305-5718, USA,, have found that hypnosis reduces the duration and the distress of an invasive medical procedure for children.


Voiding cystourethrography (VCUG) is a commonly performed radiological procedure in children that is both painful and frightening. Given the need for children to be alert and co-operate during the procedure, finding a psychological intervention that helps children to manage anxiety, distress, and pain is clearly desirable. The aim of this study was to examine whether relaxation and analgesia facilitated with hypnosis could reduce distress and procedure time for children.


In this randomized controlled trial, 44 children were randomized to receive either routine care or hypnosis. The children chosen had had at least one previous VCUG and found it distressing. Parents and children were given a 1-hour training session in self-hypnosis before the procedure and asked to practise at home for several days. Children's anxiety, distress and pain was assessed by themselves, their parents and the research assistant who also timed the procedure.


Significant benefits of the hypnosis were found by parents who rated the procedure as less distressing for their children with hypnosis. Distress as observed by the assistant was significantly lower in children in the hypnosis group. Medical staff reported that the procedure was easier to administer to children in the hypnosis group. And procedure time was significantly shorter with hypnosis.


Hypnotic relaxation may provide a way of improving the overall medical care of children with urinary tract abnormalities and may be beneficial for children who undergo other invasive medical procedures.


Butler LD, Symons BK, Henderson SL, Shortliffe LD, Spiegel D. Hypnosis reduces distress and duration of an invasive medical procedure for children. Pediatrics 115 (1): e77-85, Jan 2005.

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