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Last Updated: 04/08/13

Nurses Trained to Do Presurgery Hypnosis for Breast Cancer Patients

Cancer Training Branch

Nurse anesthetists in two different hospital settings are being trained to perform a brief hypnosis intervention for breast cancer patients just prior to surgery. In an earlier clinical study*, the technique had been shown to reduce pain, nausea, and fatigue in a sample of 200 breast cancer surgical patients. The benefits of hypnosis also resulted in a cost savings for the institution of $772 per patient.

“Based on those findings, we asked ourselves, how do we get this beneficial technique out to more people beyond the academic medicine setting?” noted Principal Investigator Guy H. Montgomery, Ph.D., associate professor and director of the Integrative Behavioral Medicine Program at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. “We thought one way would be by working with nurses. They’re in the clinical setting and directly involved in symptom control and management, so they are a good way to get this to patients in the ‘real world’.”

Funded by an NCI Cancer Education grant,** Dr. Montgomery and his colleagues are conducting and evaluating a research dissemination program to train more than 25 nurses at Mt. Sinai Medical Center – a private research and teaching hospital – and also at Kings County Hospital, a public hospital in Brooklyn. “We believe that it is important to disseminate information on this kind of intervention so it is not just being offered to patients coming to private hospitals like Mt. Sinai. We’re also trying to get it out there to public hospital patients, as well,” he noted.

The nurses receive four training sessions on the 15-minute hypnosis technique, using role play and feedback. They are also provided with journal articles, information about hypnosis, and data on its effectiveness in the clinical setting. “They love doing the intervention,” Dr. Montgomery reported. “It’s been a learning curve for us in finding out how can we fit the training program into nurses’ busy schedules and make sure that people get the information they need.”

Over the next three years, the researchers will study the impact of the hypnosis intervention on patient outcomes and institutional costs. “It’s a simple intervention that people can easily adopt and that can potentially have large benefits, both for the patients in symptom reduction and for institutions and society at large,” Dr. Montgomery said.

*Montgomery GH, Bovbjerg DH, Schnur JB, David D, Goldfarb A, Weltz CR, Schechter C, Graff-Zivin J, Tatrow K, Price DD, Silverstein JH. A randomized clinical trial of a brief hypnosis intervention to control side effects in breast surgery patients. Journal of the National Cancer Institute, September 5, 2007; 99(17):1304-12. Epub August 28, 2007.

**Grant Number: 5R25CA129094-02