Dear Belleruth and Health Journeys:

I am interested in conducting research at my facility using your surgery audio program. How long prior to the patients scheduled surgery should the patient start listening to the guided imagery? Is there any evidence of its effectiveness if the patient only starts using it a day or two prior to surgery? Thanks.

John P.

Dear John:

Thanks for your interest in doing a study. The more the better!

The answer to your question is yes. We know for certain that 2 or 3 days ahead of surgery is plenty of time for someone to start using the surgery imagery and get positive results with blood loss, pain, anxiety and healing time.

I was surprised to learn this, actually, because initially I thought a couple of weeks would probably be necessary to have this kind of impact.

But Henry Bennett's study (written up by Henry Dreher) on 335 surgery patients proved otherwise. Patients received their tapes exactly 2-3 days before surgery (listening an average of 4 times) and this produced reduced blood loss (an average of 150 cc's), reduced length of stay (an average of 28 hrs), use of pain medication and plummeted both pre-op and post-op anxiety (both state and trait ratings on the POMS scale).

These findings were later corroborated and enhanced by a large Blue Shield of California study, showing all of this plus substantial cost savings as well.

Since then, with the arrival of "drive by surgery", where people are in and out in no time, we have had considerable anecdotal data from people who only had a chance to listen once, sometimes not until waiting in the pre-op area, and even they apparently do really well.

So go figure.

It actually looks like, under these circumstances – an unnerving situation with an anticipated (dreaded?) date involved, such as impending surgery or chemotherapy, or even an audition, competition or test – the results are even stronger for the person using this technique.  Counter-intuitive, perhaps, but true from what we see all the time.

Best of luck with the study, John.