Texting someone before minor surgery can reduce need for pain relief

Patients undergoing minor surgery who text someone beforehand are less likely to require supplemental anaesthesia than patients who did not.

This interesting claim has come from a new study conducted by researchers at RTI International, Cornell University and LaSalle Hospital.

The researchers recruited 98 patients receiving general anaesthesia for minor surgeries. Before the procedure, each person was randomly asked to text a stranger, text a friend, were given a mobile game to play for distraction, or offered nothing at all, reports news-medical.net.

Both texting a friend and a stranger reduced the need for pain relief, but the latter actually had the most positive effect, even beating playing a mobile game. The researchers think this could be because conversations with strangers tend to be more positive and about topics and values relevant to the patient, reports wraltechwire.com.

Jamie Guillory, digital media health research scientist RTI at Cornell, said the results of this study are significant considering it is not always possible to give patients a social support companion who is physically present.

“Consistent with this finding, previous research shows that engaging in activities that reinforce a person’s core values helps people to endure a pain tolerance task longer,” he stated. “Although at first it seems counterintuitive that text messaging with a stranger was more effective than with a companion, it’s the content for the conversation that makes the difference in reducing patients’ need for pain relief during surgery.”