Systematic review of the efficacy of pre-surgical mind-body based therapies on post-operative outcome measures

Complement Ther Med. 2013 Dec;21(6):697-711. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.08.020. Epub 2013 Sep 8.


Objectives: A large body of research has demonstrated that patient factors are strong predictors of recovery from surgery. Mind-body therapies are increasingly targeted at pre-operative psychological factors. The objective of this paper was to evaluate the efficacy of pre-operative mind-body based interventions on post-operative outcome measures amongst elective surgical patients.

Methods: A systematic review of the published literature was conducted using the electronic databases MEDLINE, CINAHL and PsychINFO. Randomised controlled trials (RCTs) with a prospective before-after surgery design were included.

Results: Twenty studies involving 1297 patients were included. Mind-body therapies were categorised into relaxation, guided imagery and hypnotic interventions. The majority of studies did not adequately account for the risk of bias thus undermining the quality of the evidence. Relaxation was assessed in eight studies, with partial support for improvements in psychological well-being measures, and a lack of evidence for beneficial effects for analgesic intake and length of hospital stay. Guided imagery was examined in eight studies, with strong evidence for improvements in psychological well-being measures and moderate support for the efficacy of reducing analgesic intake. Hypnosis was investigated in four studies, with partial support for improvements in psychological well-being measures. Evidence for the effect of mind-body therapies on physiological indices was limited, with minimal effects on vital signs, and inconsistent changes in endocrine measures reported.

Conclusions: This review demonstrated that the quality of evidence for the efficacy of mind-body therapies for improving post-surgical outcomes is limited. Recommendations have been made for future RCTs.

Keywords: Mind-body therapies; Post-operative outcomes; Surgery.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Clinical Trials as Topic
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Therapies / methods*
  • Mind-Body Therapies / statistics & numerical data*
  • Postoperative Period
  • Preoperative Care
  • Prospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Young Adult