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article imageStudy: Nature scenes 'reduce pain' for cancer sufferers

By Kev Hedges     Oct 21, 2010 in Health
Baltimore - Every day some cancer patients have to endure painful procedures, often excruciating. But now there may be something on hand to decrease the pain according to researchers from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, U.S.
The good news is the patient does not even have to leave their bed. Researchers say simply looking at relaxing pictures of wondrous, idyllic and natural scenes and listening to relaxing music, and natural sounds, like rain forest rhythms, at the bedside is enough to reduce the feeling of pain for many patients. Images of Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border or the sprawling plains of the Masai Mara in Kenya for example.
The objective of the study was to see whether viewing nature scenes and listening to nature sounds can reduce pain during cancer treatment. Specifically in this case they tried the study on people with bone marrow aspiration and biopsy (BMAB). The research team used 120 people who are outpatients using only local anaesthetic, a painful procedure involving a large needle which is inserted into the back of the pelvic bone and bone marrow is drawn out. It can sometimes take up to ten minutes, and is often performed with just a local anaesthetic.
Then dividing the group into three different care procedures, 44 were assigned a nature scene with accompanying nature sounds, 39 were assigned a city scene with city sounds and 37 were assigned standard care.
Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border. Looking at this image and accompanying natural sounds ...
Victoria Falls on the Zambia-Zimbabwe border. Looking at this image and accompanying natural sounds could be key to reducing pain in cancer patients during treatment.
Botev
Patients were asked to rate on a pain scale of 0 to 10, with 10 being the most painful and zero, pain free. The severity of pain was measured using this ten point scale known as the Hopkins Pain Rating Instrument. Before and after a procedure, patients are asked to indicate how uncomfortable they felt.
The Results
The control group, which had neither nature nor city scenes - on average marked BMAB as 5.7 on the pain scale according to BBC Health
But, those patients exposed to the nature sounds and images recorded an average of 3.9 on the pain scale, a significant reduction.
The city scene had no significant effect on the ranking - patients found the treatment just as painful.
The report concludes then that viewing a nature scene while listening to nature sounds is a safe, inexpensive method that may reduce pain during BMAB.
Zebras and Gnus on the sprawling natural wildlife plains of Kenya s Masai Mara
Zebras and Gnus on the sprawling natural wildlife plains of Kenya's Masai Mara
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