News Release

Nature sights and sounds ease pain during common lung procedure

Peer-Reviewed Publication

Johns Hopkins Medicine

Investigators at Johns Hopkins have strong evidence that distracting patients during and after bronchoscopy with a colorful mural of a meadow and the gurgle of a babbling brook significantly enhances efforts to reduce pain.

"Natural sounds and images, if they're the right ones in the right format, are a safe, inexpensive, effective way to reduce the pain and anxiety of inserting tubes through the nose or mouth to see the lungs," reports Noah Lechtzin, M.D., instructor of medicine at Johns Hopkins and author of the study appearing in a recent issue of the journal Chest.

The Johns Hopkins researchers emphasized that sound and sight distraction therapy is not a substitute for pain medication, but one of several complementary medicine approaches being explored by critical care specialists to enhance pain control drugs. The Hopkins group tested the natural sights and sounds on 41 men and women during their 25-minute bronchoscopies and three-hour recovery periods. Individuals looked at cloth murals hung by their bedsides and listened to nature sounds through headphones and a tape player (For examples, visit Thirty-nine similar patients underwent the procedures without distraction therapy, but with comparable levels of care and pain control.

Both groups of subjects filled out questionnaires rating their pain on a five-point scale, along with their anxiety, perceptions of privacy, difficulty in breathing, willingness to have the procedure done again, and safety.

"What stood out was pain control," says Gregory Diette, M.D., an assistant professor of pulmonary and critical care medicine at Johns Hopkins and lead author of the study. "That was the only area of significant improvement. Patients who listened to the nature sounds and looked at the mural during the bronchoscopy were 43 percent more likely to report pain control as very good or excellent, even after controlling for such factors as pain medication, health, race and education."

Based on the study results, Johns Hopkins will use the distraction therapy to enhance comfort for patients undergoing bronchoscopy.


For more information or to interview Diette or Lechtzin, contact Trent Stockton at 410-955-8665.

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