The Healing Words

There is such a thing as verbal medicine.

Encouraging words while you’re under the knife may mean faster recovery from surgery, with fewer complications, according to the doctors at the United Medical and Dental Schools of Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Hospitals, London. The subjects in their study were thirty-nine women who underwent hysterectomies, “but there’s no reason to assume it wouldn’t work with men as well,” says Dr. P.H. Richardson, senior lecturer in psychology at the medical school. All of the women wore headphones during the operation, but a blank tape was played for twenty of them; the others heard a recorded voice that told them how to have a smoother convalescence (even the surgeons weren’t told which tape was played). Information was given about postoperative procedures, along with therapeutic suggestions such as “You will not have any pain.” The results were impressive. Patients in this group had significantly fewer incidences of fever and digestive distress in the post-op period than did the others, and many left the hospital more than a day earlier. Nurses rated the recovery of sixteen of the nineteen as “better than expected.” Conversely, Richardson notes that ill-considered remarks made by operating room personnel when a patient is under the anesthetic appear to impede recovery.

Copyright © 2009 Athena Goodlight (11/05/2009 Healthmad)
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