Nature scenes could reduce pain for cancer patients

Showing relaxing pictures to cancer sufferers during treatment could reduce their pain

Researchers at John Hopkins University in Baltimore believe they may have found a way to lessen the pain of cancer patients who have to endure excruciating procedures on a daily basis.

The team studied those undergoing bone marrow aspiration and biopsy (BMAB) and found that their pain was decreased by showing them pictures of idyllic scenes, such as Victoria Falls in Zambia, and playing out relaxing sounds of nature.

The control group undergoing traditional BMAB measured 5.7 on the pain scale, while patients exposed to natural sounds and images during the procedure recorded an average of 3.9 – a significant reduction.

Noah Lechtzin, from the department of medicine at John Hopkins University, says the reduction of pain is not merely a case of distracting the patient. The choice of picture is very important.

‘I certainly do think distraction must play a role,’ he said, ‘but there is a lot of thought that there’s specific elements to nature that people relate to and have particularly a soothing effect.’

Lechtzin hopes that hospitals will encompass the findings into their patient treatment, if only by displaying the suggested relaxing and calming picture during painful procedures.

‘It’s a large mural that can hang on a hospital curtain and get wheeled on a stand from bed to bed,’ he said. ‘It is fairly inexpensive, doesn’t require any training and is easy to use.’

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