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

BMC Geriatr. 2016 Jan 15:16:14. doi: 10.1186/s12877-016-0180-y.


Background: Chronic pain is a common and serious health problem in older patients. Treatment often includes non pharmacological approaches despite a relatively modest evidence base in this population. Hypnosis has been used in younger adults with positive results. The main objective of this study was to measure the feasibility and efficacy of hypnosis (including self hypnosis) in the management of chronic pain in older hospitalized patients.

Methods: A single center randomized controlled trial using a two arm parallel group design (hypnosis versus massage). Inclusion criteria were chronic pain for more than 3 months with impact on daily life activities, intensity of > 4; adapted analgesic treatment; no cognitive impairment. Brief pain inventory was completed.

Results: Fifty-three patients were included (mean age: 80.6 ± 8.2--14 men; 26 hypnosis; 27 massage. Pain intensity decreased significantly in both groups after each session. Average pain measured by the brief pain index sustained a greater decrease in the hypnosis group compared to the massage group during the hospitalisation. This was confirmed by the measure of intensity of the pain before each session that decreased only in the hypnosis group over time (P = 0.008). Depression scores improved significantly over the time only in the hypnosis group (P = 0.049). There was no effect in either group 3 months post hospitals discharge.

Discussions and conclusion: Hypnosis represents a safe and valuable tool in chronic pain management of hospitalized older patients. In hospital interventions did not provide long term post discharge relief.

Trial registration: ISRCTN15615614; registered 2/1/2015.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Chronic Pain* / diagnosis
  • Chronic Pain* / etiology
  • Chronic Pain* / psychology
  • Chronic Pain* / therapy
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis / methods*
  • Male
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Pain Measurement / methods
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN15615614