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Reflexology and Imagery Relieve Preoperative Anxiety

Complementary Medicine Reduces Stress Before Surgery

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Anticipating surgery can be stressful, and many patients suffer from preoperative anxiety, which can cause serious health complications such as hypertension, rapid pulse and sugar metabolism changes. Israeli researchers from the University of Haifa have found that complementary medicine, combined with standard use of anti-anxiety drugs prior to entering the operating room, can significantly reduce preoperative anxiety levels and improve outcomes.

Researchers divided 360 preoperative patients ages 17 and up into three groups: those receiving standard care for preoperative anxiety; those receiving standard care along with complementary therapy, featuring acupuncture, reflexology, individual guided imagery or a combination of the latter two; and those receiving standard care combined with generic guided imagery via a recording. Anxiety levels were measured preoperatively before and after the intervention on a scale of one to 10, with scores of four or more constituting intermediate or higher-level anxiety.

The study found that complementary therapy in combination with standard care produced a 60 percent reduction in anxiety, with the mean score dropping from 5.54 to 2.32. Combining standard care with reflexology and guided imagery provided the best relief, reducing anxiety by an average of 4.22 points. Patients receiving only standard care experienced a slight rise in their average anxiety level.


This article appears in the February 2017 issue of Natural Awakenings.

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