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What's the evidence for hypnosis?

2019-06-04 18:31:52

We often hear "what's the evidence for hypnosis". Well, a great systemic review has been released looking at lots of the evidence around hypnosis and pain. You can access it here:

https://sci-hub.tw/https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0149763418304913

When you read a systematic review that concludes "these findings suggest that hypnotic intervention can deliver meaningful pain relief for most people and therefore may be an effective and safe alternative to pharmaceutical intervention." it is easy to believe that all is well in the world, and hypnosis for pain is a no brainer, fully substantiated by evidence.

Luckily, we're all fully able to critically appraise all of the information we're presented with (ok, ok, if you're a little rusty, there's a CASP checklist here:

https://casp-uk.net/wp-content/uploads/2018/01/CASP-Systematic-Review-Checklist_2018.pdf).

So - is this systematic review all that? Well, I think it is.

It identifies a very clear (and relevant) question, and the search strategy appears very sound. A wide range of terms were used, in a wide range of relevant databases. The papers chosen were carefully reviewed by two separate reviewers to judge their quality. Traditionally, randomised controlled studies are felt to be the gold standard of paper - but it was recognised that these were difficult to perform for hypnosis. It's tempting to ask for "grey literature" to be included - but this would lower the standard of the reviews.

I thought this article was useful as it highlighted that suggestibility was important, and confirmed a belief that sometimes, even hypnosis must stick to the Pareto principle.



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