Hypnotherapy in palliative care

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SUMMARYComplementary therapies have found increasing vogue in the management of patients with cancer, although little formal evaluation has been undertaken. We report on our experience of offering hynotherapy to palliative care outpatients in a hospice day care setting.During 2½ years, 256 patients had hypnotherapy, all singly; two-thirds(n=104) were women. Only 13% (n=21) had four or more treatment sessions. At the time of survey, the 52 patients still alive were mailed an evaluation sheet, of whom 41 responded. 61% reported improved coping with their illness. 7%(n=3) reported harmful or negative effects from hypnotherapy. Amongst those whose coping was unchanged, many found the therapy a pleasant experience. 35 respondents (85%) appended positive comments to their questionnaire returns.Despite the limitations of a retrospective questionnaire, our findings suggest that hypnotherapy, used within strict guidelines in patients with advanced cancer, is a safe complementary therapy to enhance coping.

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