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Hypnosis Reduces Anxiety in Children Undergoing Invasive Medical Procedures

Wednesday, January 14, 2009 by: Steve G. Jones, Ed.S.
Tags: hypnosis, health news, Natural News

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(NewsTarget) Voiding cystourethrography (VCUG) is an invasive medical procedure involving a catheter used to examine the bladder and urethra. This procedure is often used on children and can have a negative impact on the child including distress and pain. In 2005, an article appeared in the journal Pediatrics about the role hypnosis plays in helping children go through the procedure. Doctors need children to be cooperative during the VCUG and researchers wanted to see if hypnosis could relax the children, reduce stress and procedure time.

The study consisted of 44 children with the average age of 7.6. All were scheduled to undergo a VCUG in the near future. They were randomly divided into two groups. One group would receive hypnosis during the procedure (n=21) and the other group would receive routine care (n=23).

To participate in the study the children must have met certain criteria. They needed to be at least 4 years old. They must have already underwent one VCUG and experienced anxiety during the invasive procedure. All children and parents were questioned extensively in regard to their experience during the previous VCUG.

In preparation for the procedure, the children in the hypnosis group were given a one hour overview of hypnosis and were also encouraged to use self-hypnosis to prepare for the VCUG. During the procedure, the children in the hypnosis group had a therapist available for them to help with the hypnosis. Most of the children who received routine care chose to undergo a relaxation and breathing program to help during the VCUG.

Before the procedure the parents and child rated their levels of anxiety. During the VCUG a research assistant evaluated the child's emotions and behavior and recorded the amount of time the procedure took. After the VCUG both parents and the child rated their current experience as well as how it compared to their previous VCUG. Also, the staff administering the procedure rated the degree of difficulty.

The study concluded that the hypnosis group saw significant improvement compared to the routine care group in the following areas:

1.The hypnosis group reported significantly less trauma in relation to the procedure compared to the previous VCUG.
2.The hypnosis group experienced less anxiety during the procedure.
3.Staff reported less difficulty in administering the procedure to the hypnosis group.
4.The hypnosis group spent less time undergoing the procedure (an average of 14 minutes shorter).

Researchers concluded that hypnosis is beneficial for children undergoing a VCUG and hypnosis may be beneficial for children undergoing other invasive procedures. Hypnosis has a significant impact on patient care and medical costs.


Butler, L.D., Symons, B.K., Henderson, S.L., Shortliffe, L.D. & Spiegel, D. (2005). Hypnosis Reduces Distress and Duration of an Invasive Medical Procedure for Children. Pediatrics, 115(1): 77-85.

About the author

Steve G. Jones, Ed.S. has been practicing hypnotherapy since the 1980s. He is the author of 22 books on Hypnotherapy. Steve is a member of the National Guild of Hypnotists, American Board of Hypnotherapy, president of the American Alliance of Hypnotists, on the board of directors of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Lung Association, and director of the Steve G. Jones School of Clinical Hypnotherapy.
Steve G. Jones, Ed.S. is a board certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. He has a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Florida (1994), a master's degree in education from Armstrong Atlantic State University (2007), and is currently working on a doctorate in education, Ed.D., at Georgia Southern University. Learn more at:

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