Hypnosis for Pain Management in the Older Adult

Norma G. Cuellar, DSN, RN


Pain Manag Nurs. 2005;6(3):105-111. 

In This Article

Hypnosis and the Older Adult

Little research specifically addressees the use of hypnosis with the older adult. Only three studies (Ashton et al., 1997; Gay et al., 2002; Lang et al., 1996) were found that reported a mean age of participants of 60 to 69 years.

However, these studies were not focused specifically on the older adult or on the benefits to this cohort. Ashton et al. (1997) found that patients who were taught self-hypnosis before coronary artery bypass surgery (mean age was 64 years in the hypnosis group) needed less postoperative pain medication and had less postoperative anxiety and tension compared with a control group. The self-hypnosis group also reported less depression, anger, fatigue, and confusion after the surgery. When comparing hypnosis and relaxation, Gay et al. (2002) reported that older adults with osteoarthritis who were in the hypnosis group (mean age was 64 years in the hypnosis group) were effective in reducing the amount of analgesic medication needed to control arthritic pain. Lang et al. (1996) further supported the use of hypnosis in the older adult when self-hypnotic relaxation was used during interventional radiologic procedures (mean age was 69 years old in the hypnosis group). Participants used less midazolam plus 25 µg of fentanyl through a patient-controlled analgesia/sedation, reported less pain, and had less oxygen desaturations during the procedures, as well as less interruptions during the procedures for hemodynamic instability. Although these studies did not directly address the use of hypnosis in the older adults, the benefits of this intervention are documented.


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