Texting Found to Suppress Demand for Narcotic Analgesics, Postsurgery

New research appearing in the journal Pain Medicine reports that surgical patients who text someone on their mobile phone during minor procedures done under local anesthetic exhibit significantly reduced need for narcotic pain relief postsurgery. When the texting is done to a stranger, the reduction in demand is even greater, according to the research team from Cornell and McGill Universities. The study was conducted to test earlier research showing that social support before and during medical procedures can reduce anxiety and perceptions of pain.

The study examined 4 groups of subjects: patients receiving standard cell-free perioperative treatment, those using a mobile phone to play the game Angry Birds, patients using a mobile phone to text with a close friend or family member, and patients who texted with a research assistant instructed to focus on “getting to know you” conversations. Patients receiving “standard therapy” were more than 6 times as likely to call for postprocedure narcotic analgesics as those who engaged in texting conversations with a stranger. The authors say this study provides the first evidence that texting offers this benefit beyond traditional treatment or even “distraction” methods such as playing a video game. The team called for new work to explore exactly what type of conversations work best, and how far this benefit can be developed to assist patients and doctors.

Read more about the study findings here.

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