Purpose: The aim of this study was to investigate whether brief psychologic interventions to reduce perioperative stress may improve the postoperative course of patients undergoing abdominal surgery.
Methods: We used a randomized, controlled, partially blinded trial to evaluate the differential effectiveness of two brief psychologic interventions (guided imagery and progressive muscle relaxation) on analgesic requirement, pain perception, pulmonary function, duration of postoperative ileus, and fatigue after conventional resection of colorectal carcinoma in elderly cancer patients.
Results: Sixty patients (20 guided imagery, 22 relaxation, 18 control) were evaluated. Acceptance of the brief psychologic interventions was high and 90 percent of the patients indicated that they would recommend it to other patients. Analgesic consumption (P = 0.6) and subjective pain intensity at rest (P = 0.3) and while coughing (P = 0.3) were not different between groups. Recovery of pulmonary function, duration of postoperative ileus, and subjective postoperative fatigue were also not influenced. When the data from intervention groups were pooled, again no benefits were detected compared with the control group.
Conclusions: Brief psychologic interventions such as guided imagery and relaxation yielded a very positive patient response but did not show a clinically relevant influence on the postoperative physiologic course of elderly patients undergoing conventional resections of colorectal cancer.