Guided imagery is said to distract patients from disturbing feelings and thoughts, positively affects emotional well-being, and reduce pain by producing pleasing mental images.

This study aimed to determine the effects of guided imagery on postoperative pain management in patients undergoing lower extremity surgery. This randomized controlled study was conducted between April 2018 and May 2019. It included 60 patients who underwent lower extremity surgery. After using guided imagery, the posttest mean Visual Analog Scale score of patients in the intervention group was found to be 2.56 (1.00 ± 6.00), whereas the posttest mean score of patients in the control group was 4.10 (3.00 ± 6.00), and the difference between the groups was statistically significant (p <.001).

The authors concluded that guided imagery reduces short-term postoperative pain after lower extremity surgery.

I did not want to spend $52 to access the full article. Therefore, I can only comment on what the abstract tells me – and that is regrettably not a lot.

In fact, we don’t even learn what treatment was given to the control group. I guess that both groups receive standard post-op care and the control group received nothing in addition. This would mean that the observed effect might be entirely due to placebo and other non-specific effects. If that is so, the authors’ conclusion is not accurate.

I happen to think that guided imagery is a promising albeit under-researched therapy. Therefore, I am particularly frustrated to see that the few trials that do emerge of this option are woefully inadequate to determine its value.

3 Responses to Guided imagery for postoperative pain control?

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