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Papers of the Week

Papers: 8 Jan 2022 - 14 Jan 2022


Human Studies

2022 Jan

Am J Clin Hypn



Placebo and hypnosis in the clinical setting: Contextual factors in hypnotic analgesia.



The assumption that hypnotic analgesia produces placebo effects is controversial. The cognitive dimension that can distinguish hypnosis from placebo analgesia has been suggested as hypnotic susceptibility. The aim of this study is to investigate the role of the relationship between patient and therapist, assumed to produce the placebo effect, in the clinical context of hypnotic treatment for pain. Seventy subjects were given hypnosis administered by the therapist in person (Group A) and 37 practiced self-hypnosis (Group B) for 8 weeks. The Somatosensory Amplification Scale (SSAS), Stanford hypnotic susceptibility scale type A, Cold pressor test (CPT) and SCL-90 were administered at baseline, and Italian Pain Questionnaire (IPQ) dimensions were used as outcome measures. The SSAS did appear to reflect the efficacy of hypnotic analgesia in all pain variables explored, but only in Group B. An improvement in pain intensity and all IPQ dimensions were found at 8 weeks. In particular, an improvement in the affective dimension of pain, with a medium-high effect size (η2 = .774), was recorded after hypnotic analgesia, with the outcome being better in Group A than in Group B ( = .001). This outcome was independent of hypnotic susceptibility in both groups. Considering our hypothesis that, given the administration of the same suggestions, the therapist could promote the placebo response, contributing to the improvement in the affective dimension of pain outcome, which exhibited a response to the hypnotic treatment independently of hypnotic susceptibility.