Adolescents with cancer. Hypnosis for the reduction of the acute pain and anxiety associated with medical procedures

J Adolesc Health Care. 1983 Jun;4(2):85-90. doi: 10.1016/s0197-0070(83)80024-2.


Eighteen adolescents with cancer were trained in hypnosis to ameliorate the discomfort and anxiety associated with bone marrow aspirations, lumbar punctures, and chemotherapeutic injections. Two patients rejected hypnosis. The remaining 16 adolescents achieved significant reductions in multiple measures of distress after hypnosis training. Preintervention data showed no pattern of spontaneous remission or habituation, and, in fact, an increasing anticipatory anxiety was observed before hypnotic treatment. Group reductions in pain and anxiety were significant at levels ranging from p less than 0.02 to p less than 0.002 (two-tailed t-tests). Significant reductions were also found in Trait Anxiety. A non-significant trend toward greater self-esteem was present. The predicted changes in the Locus of Control and General Illness Impact were not found. Comparisons between hypnosis rejectors and successful users unusually showed higher levels of pretreatment anxiety in the former. The pragmatic nature of hypnosis as part of comprehensive medical care in oncology is noted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Bone Marrow Examination
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypnosis / methods*
  • Injections / psychology
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / complications*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Pain, Intractable / psychology
  • Pain, Intractable / therapy*
  • Spinal Puncture / psychology