Healthy Hospital TipsSeptember 29, 2009 Written by JP [Font too small?]
At one point or another almost everyone ends up in a hospital. Or, at the very least, someone that you care about pays a visit to one. When that time comes, it’s vital to be aware of certain resources that can help ensure a healthier and safer stay. The suggestions presented today have been validated by recent scientific studies. I’m sharing them in the hope that they will be helpful for both the patients being treated and the nurses and physicians who provide such care.
Please note that the following information is not comprehensive in nature. These are simply a few isolated recommendations based upon new information contained in the medical literature. In some instances, these tips may not be appropriate. Therefore, I strongly suggest that you discuss these options with your health care team prior to applying them.
Long before the advent of apartment complexes and skyscrapers, humans were surrounded by deserts, forests and jungles. It seems that this deeply ingrained history of ours may still have something worthwhile to contribute. A study in the September issue of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine explored the connection between the presence of ornamental plants in hospital rooms and the recovery process. 90 patients who underwent minor surgery were placed in traditional hospital rooms or rooms that included living flowers and plants. The patients in the rooms with plants demonstrated several key benefits as compared to those in rooms without:
- Lower levels of anxiety, fatigue and pain
- A significant reduction in systolic blood pressure
- The treatment group also conveyed a more positive impression about the quality of care they received from hospital employees.
These findings are very promising because they indicate that this simple change could improve the healing and working environment for both caregivers and patients. The authors of this study concluded that, “health care professionals and hospital administrators need to consider the use of plants and flowers to enhance healing environments for patients”.
Something as basic as a hand massage can significantly reduce stress in patients receiving advanced cancer care. A recent experiment evaluated the effects of a “brief hand massage” on the salivary levels of a substance called chromogranin A (CgA) in a group of in-patients. Saliva samples were taken prior to and after a “5 minute massage to the upper extremity” of 34 cancer patients in a “palliative care unit”. Palliative care refers to the management of quality of life issues present in severe medical conditions. Reductions in CgA levels and improvements in “patient satisfaction” were reported in all of the participants receiving this form of treatment. (1)
Incorporating comedy films and TV shows into a hospital care setting may assist doctors and patients improve tolerance to treatment related pain. A recent study performed at UCLA involving 18 children (aged 7-16) found that viewing “humorous video tapes” during painful procedures could help improve pain tolerance – see table below. The application of this kind of “humor therapy” may promote better patient compliance to stressful and uncomfortable therapies and ultimately, bring about improvements in treatment outcomes. (2)
Listening to relaxing music prior to surgery may be a safer way of reducing anxiety than the use of conventional anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) drugs. 372 surgical patients were divided into two groups. Half were asked to listen to calming soundtracks prior to surgery. The remainder was given an anxiolytic pre-operative medication known as midazolam. A standardized test called the State Trait Anxiety Inventory was used to determine the relative effects of both treatments. Those listening to the calming tunes exhibited a greater reduction in anxiety than those receiving the medication. The Swedish scientists that helmed the study commented that, “higher effectiveness and absence of apparent adverse effects makes pre-operative relaxing music a useful alternative to midazolam for pre-medication”. (3)
Pain Appraisal and Tolerance by Trial
|Condition||Mean Pain Appraisal||Mean Pain Tolerance in Seconds|
|No Video (Trial 1)||4.60||52.26|
|After Humorous Video (Trial 2)||4.24||58.74|
|During Humorous Video (Trial 3)||4.57||80.42|
Avoiding hospital acquired infections is a primary objective in modern medicine. A natural strategy that may reduce this risk is to supplement with probiotics. Probiotics are healthy bacteria that are present in the digestive system and can be found in cultured and fermented foods such as sauerkraut and yogurt. A recent meta-analysis in the European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology examined 9 randomized controlled trials that involved probiotic use in 733 hospital patients. The authors of the review determined that the incidence of “postoperative pneumonia, cholangitis and any infections, as well as the duration of postoperative hospital stay and length of antibiotic therapy were lower among patients receiving probiotics”. (4)
It’s incumbent upon us all to be our own advocates while under any kind of medical care. This is all the more true if and when we’re admitted to a hospital. If we respectfully demand the most up-to-date treatment options and participate in our own recovery, it not only helps us, but also benefits the medical staff and their other patients. It is the challenging and well informed patients that help doctors and nurses to improve performance. This, in turn, can have a positive “domino effect” that may lead to better care for countless others and is yet another way in which we can all help to reform health care.
Note: Please check out the “Comments & Updates” section of this blog – at the bottom of the page. You can find the latest research about this topic there!
Tags: Hospital, Music, Probiotics
Posted in Alternative Therapies, Mental Health, Nutritional Supplements