Effect of Relaxation Exercises on Controlling Postoperative Pain

Sacide Yildizeli Topcu, RN, MSc; Ummu Yildiz Findik, RN, MSc, PhD


Pain Manag Nurs. 2012;13(1):11-17. 

In This Article


Ethical Considerations

This study was approved by the Ethics Committee of the Trakya University Medical Faculty. Permission to conduct the study was obtained from the Director of Nursing and Clinical Services. All the patients were given information on the study, and informed consent was obtained from each of the participants.

Design and Sample

This is a cross-sectional and crossover study conducted on 60 patients who had undergone upper abdominal surgery between October 2006 and June 2007 in the General Surgery Clinic, Health and Research Practice Center, Trakya University.

A convenience sample method was used in the research. The patients included in the study had undergone upper abdominal surgery, were in the postoperative 1–4-day period, had postoperative mobilization, were >18 years old and literate, had no communication or mental problems, were given an analgesic ≥2 hours before the exercises, and volunteered to participate in the study and practice the relaxation exercises. Patients who had undergone laparoscopic surgery were not included in the study.

Data Collection

A personal information form to provide information on the demographic characteristics of the patients, their health histories, and existing diseases and a verbal pain scale to identify the patients' pain levels were used in data collection. A audiotape prepared by the Turkish Psychologists Association was used to teach and apply the relaxation exercises.

The personal information form consists of eight questions covering demographic details such as the patient's age, gender, educational level, health insurance, and health history data such as surgical procedure, chronic diseases, treatment period, and number of postoperative days. The verbal pain scale consists of grades defining the patient's pain, such as "no pain," "mild pain," "irritating pain," "severe pain," "very severe pain,," and "unbearable pain".

The training material for relaxation exercises was prepared by the Turkish Psychologists Association. The audiotape used to teach and apply the relaxation exercises includes audible instructions for relaxation exercises, benefits and important points to remember during the practice and application of relaxation exercises. It gives instructions for relaxation exercises with soothing music and the sound of running water in the background. The instructions include correct breathing techniques, focusing on relaxation, as well contracting and relaxing various muscle groups.


Barring clinic visits, meals, visitation, and treatment hours, the patients were verbally informed about the relaxation exercises, based on information gathered from the literature, ≥2 hours after the analgesic application while at rest in a quiet and calm environment, pain was alleviated by analgesic effect, and the patient had approved participation in the research. All participants were asked to complete the personal information form, and their pain levels were recorded before they began practicing the relaxation exercises. Next, they were taught the relaxation exercises on the tape prepared by Turkish Psychologists Association and encouraged to apply them. The patients used headphones during the training to prevent them from being distracted by the surrounding sounds and to help them concentrate. The patients were encouraged to listen to the tape until they stated that they had learned the exercises fully and could apply them correctly. After that, the patients did the relaxation exercises for 30 minutes, following which the pain levels were reassessed and recorded.

Data Analysis

The statistical analyses for data assessment were performed using SPSS 10.00. In addition to percentage, frequency, and average analyses, the Wilcoxon T test was used to determine the differences among the pain levels. Then the nonparametric Spearman correlation analysis and nominal by interval eta analysis were used to identify the correlation among the patients' personal characteristics, health history, treatment properties, and pain levels. A p value of <.05 was accepted as the statistical significance limit.


Comments on Medscape are moderated and should be professional in tone and on topic. You must declare any conflicts of interest related to your comments and responses. Please see our Commenting Guide for further information. We reserve the right to remove posts at our sole discretion.
Post as: