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15 Aug

The good news: A new survey of the research on music and healing was recently published by Myskja and Lindbaek at the University of Oslo. The bad news: it’s in Norwegian. But the English abstract is available in PubMed.

Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen 2000 Apr 10;120(10):1186-90 draws tentative conclusions about music’s efficacy for treating anxiety and depression, and improving function in schizophrenia and autism; its utility for pain, reducing the need for medication aqnd helping during uncomfortable diagnostic procedures; its usefulness as a support tool during pregnancy and gestation, in internal medicine, oncology, paediatrics and other related fields; with geriatric patients, alleviating symptoms in stroke rehabilitation, Parkinson''s disease, Alzheimer''s disease and other forms of dementia; and its supportive role in palliative medicine and terminal care.

The article concludes that music as a therapeutic agent, and music with guided imagery, is well tolerated, inexpensive, and delivers good compliance with few side effects.

Citation: Myskja A, Lindbaek M. How does music affect the human body? Examples of the use of music in clinical medicine. Tidsskr Nor Laegeforen. 2000 Apr 10(10):1182-5, 1186-90.
15 Aug

Web-based cognitive behavior therapy: analysis of site usage and changes in depression and anxiety scores.

Helen Christensen of The Centre for Mental Health Research at The Australian National University in Canberra (This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.) developed a free Internet-based cognitive-behavior therapy intervention called MoodGYM at http://moodgym.anu.edu.au. The MoodGYM is designed to treat and prevent depression in young people, and is especially targeted for those with no formal contact with professional help.

All visitors to the MoodGYM site over about 6 months were investigated as aggregate data, including 2909 registrants of whom 1503 had completed at least one online assessment. (Outcomes for 71 university students enrolled in an Abnormal Psychology course who visited the site for educational training were included and examined separately.)

15 Aug

A study from Siriraj Hospital in Thailand looked at the effect of a 7-day, intensive meditation program for 101 older adolescent male deliquents in the Upekkha Detention Center. All the boys completed the program and answered questionnaires. Seventy percent of the subjects described feelings of contentment and calm, 53 per cent requested the program be repeated, 52 per cent reported a clearer undestanding in the doctrine of Karma, 44 per cent noted improved concentration and awareness, 36 per cent felt less impulsive. All felt that the meditation practice had been beneficial. The report concludes that meditation is a positive adjunctive therapy for institutionalized juvenile delinquents.

Citation: Witoonchart C, Bartlet L. The use of a meditation programme for institutionalized juvenile delinquents. Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand, 2002. Aug; vol. 85 Supplement 2: pp. S790-3.
15 Aug

A British pilot study assessed the effectiveness of a cognitive-behavioral therapy specifically designed to prevent relapses and improve social functioning in patients with bipolar affective disorder (this diagnosis used to be called manic depression).

The clinical trial at London’s Institute of Psychiatry randomized 103 patients with bipolar disorder, who experienced frequent relapses despite the prescription of commonly used mood stabilizers, into a cognitive-behavioral therapy group or control group. Both groups received mood stabilizers and regular psychiatric follow-up. In addition, the cognitive-behavioral group received an average of 14 sessions of CBT training during the first 6 months and 2 booster sessions in the second 6 months. The study found that during the 12-month period, the CBT group had significantly fewer bipolar episodes, feewer days in a bipolar episode, and fewer number of admissions for this type of episode.

15 Aug

When sixty-two patients were randomly assigned to nitrous oxide sedation (NO), cognitive therapy (CT), or applied relaxation (AR) therapy, to help them reduce their fear of dental procedures, highly significant reductions in fear and general distress were found in all three groups. Patients in the applied relaxation group showed the greatest benefit and the most dramatic reduction on dental fear measures. One year later a majority (95%) of the participants had undergone dental treatment, and on the whole, showed continued favorable effects. Every subject judged the dental fear treatment to have been beneficial, and 80% reported the treatment successful. All three treatment groups scored in the normative range for general distress both at the end of treatment and at one year follow-up.

Citation: Willumsen T, Vassend O, Hoffart A. One-year follow-up of patients treated for dental fear: effects of cognitive therapy, applied relaxation, and nitrous oxide sedation. Acta Odontologica Scandinavica. 2001 Dec; 59(6): 335-40.
15 Aug

Although this article is more a program description than a clinical trial, it is very much worth mentioning as an experimental pilot effort. A program designed at the Jewish Home and Hospital in New York City used meditation, relaxation, sensory awareness and guided imagery in a group setting to enhance self-awareness, self-esteem, and body awareness among demented elderly.

These techniques were used to address many of the daunting issues residents face – i.e., coping with disability, changes in body image, the promotion of self-empowerment, and the preservation of autonomy and personal integrity within the nursing home setting.

15 Aug

Researchers at Institute for Ageing and Health at Newcastle General Hospital in the U.K. conducted a placebo-controlled trial to determine the value of aromatherapy with essential oil of Melissa officinalis (lemon balm) for agitation in people with severe dementia. Seventy-two people residing in National Health Service (U.K.) care facilities who had clinically significant agitation associated with severe dementia were randomly assigned to aromatherapy with Melissa essential oil (N = 36) or placebo (sunflower oil) (N = 36).

The active treatment or placebo oil was combined with a base lotion and applied to patients'' faces and arms twice a day by caregiving staff. Changes in clinically significant agitation (Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory [CMAI]) and quality of life indices (percentage of time spent socially withdrawn and percentage of time engaged in constructive activities, measured with Dementia Care Mapping) were compared between the 2 groups over a 4-week period of treatment.

14 Aug

When sixty- three patients, ages 7-49, were offered to be taught self-hypnosis by their pulmonologist, forty-nine agreed to learn it. The average age was 18.1. Patients generally were taught hypnosis in one or two sessions. Outcomes were determined by patients'' answers to open-ended questions regarding their subjective evaluation of the efficacy of hypnosis. Many of the patients used hypnosis for more than one purpose, including general relaxation (61% of patients), relief of pain associated with medical procedures (31%), headache relief (16%), changing the taste of medications to make the flavor more palatable (10%), and control of other symptoms associated with CF (18%). The patients successfully utilized self-hypnosis 86% of the time. No symptoms worsened following hypnotherapy. Sixteen patients chose to practice hypnosis on their own for a half year or longer. The report concludes that with the use of self-hypnosis, patients with CF can quickly learn to enhance their control over discomforts associated with therapy and their disease. It recommends that instruction in self-hypnosis be made available to patients with CF.

Citation: Anbar R, Self-hypnosis for patients with cystic fibrosis. Pediatric Pulmonology. 2000 Dec;30(6): pp. 461-5.

14 Aug

A study by Fawzy Fawzy, MD et al on the effects of support groups using imagery and relaxation with early-stage melanoma patients showed that after 6 months these patients had significantly decreased negative mood states and significantly increased natural killer cell activity.

Citation: Fawzy FL, Fawzy NW , Hyun CS, Elashoff R, Guthrie D, Fahey JL, Morton DL. Malignant melanoma: Effects of an Early Unstructured Psychiatric Intervention, Coping, and Affective Recurrence and Survival 6 years later, Archives of General Psychiatry. 1993 Sep;50(9):681-9
14 Aug

Coping, life attitudes, and the immune responses to imagery and group support after breast cancer treatment.

Blair Justice, Mary Ann Richardson and their cohorts at the University of Texas-Houston School of Public Health, conducted a pilot study to differentiate the effects of imagery vs. support on coping, attitude, immune function and emotional well-being after breast cancer. Subjects were randomly assigned to one of 3 groups: standard care, weekly support (for 6 weeks) or imagery sessions (for 6 weeks).  

14 Aug

Katherine Kolcaba, PhD, RN (U of Akron) and Christine Fox, PhD, (U of Toledo) found guided imagery to be an effective intervention for increasing comfort and reducing anxiety in 53 women with early stage breast cancer undergoing Radiation Therapy. The investigators designed and recorded imagery specifically for this study. Subjects were most likely to listen just before a treatment.

Citation: Kolcaba K, Fox C. The effects of guided imagery on comfort of women with early stage breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy. Oncol Nurs Forum. 1999 Jan-Feb; 26(1):67-72

14 Aug

The effects of a 6 week psychosocial intervention group on the survival of 21 breast cancer and 29 prostate cancer patients in rural Pennsylvania.

The 6 2-hour class topics emphasized imagery and stress reduction techniques, along with covering attitudes, feelings, self-esteem, spirituality, nutrition and exercise.

The intervention group lived significantly longer than the matched controls, suggesting that short-term psychosocial interventions that encourage the expression of feeling, provide social support and teach coping skills can influence survival. But Self-selection for these groups could have biased this sample.

Citation: Schrock D, Palmer R, Taylor B. Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine, May, 1999; Vol 5, #3:49-55.