The effects of psychological interventions on wound healing: A systematic review of randomized trials

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Abstract

Purpose

Psychological stress has been shown to delay wound healing. Several trials have investigated whether psychological interventions can improve wound healing, but to date, this evidence base has not been systematically synthesized. The objective was to conduct a systematic review of randomized controlled trials in humans investigating whether psychological interventions can enhance wound healing.

Methods

A systematic review was performed using PsychINFO, CINAHL, Web of Science, and MEDLINE. The searches included all papers published in English up until September 2016. The reference lists of relevant papers were screened manually to identify further review articles or relevant studies. Nineteen studies met inclusion criteria and were included in the review.

Results

Fifteen of nineteen studies were of high methodological quality. Six studies were conducted with acute experimentally created wounds, five studies with surgical patients, two studies with burn wounds, two studies with fracture wounds, and four studies were conducted with ulcer wounds. Post-intervention standardized mean differences (SMD) between groups across all intervention types ranged from 0.13 to 3.21, favouring improved healing, particularly for surgical patients and for relaxation interventions. However, there was some evidence for publication bias suggesting negative studies may not have been reported. Due to the heterogeneity of wound types, population types, and intervention types, it is difficult to pool effect sizes across studies.

Conclusions

Current evidence suggests that psychological interventions may aid wound healing. Although promising, more research is needed to assess the efficacy of each intervention on different wound types.

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