Study: Hypnosis Works to Treat Hospitalized Smokers

Patients who are hospitalized may be more likely to quit smoking with the help of hypnotherapy, according to researchers.

A study, conducted by the North Shore Medical Center and Massachusetts General Hospital in Salem, Mass., found that more patients were likely to quit smoking after six months, compared to patients who used nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) or those who wanted to quit on their own, which is known as going "cold turkey." Researhers also found that patients who were admitted to the hospital with cardiac disease were three times more likely to quit smoking than those with pulmonary (lung) problems.

Researchers studied 67 patients with cardio and pulmonary diseases who wanted to quit smoking. The patients were divided into four groups, based on their preferred method of treatment, including: 14 using hypnotherapy; 19 using an NRT; 18 using an NRT and hypnotherapy; and 16 who wanted to quit "cold turkey".

The control group received brief counseling while other groups received intensive counseling, which included a free supply of NRT and/or a free hypnotherapy session within seven days of discharge. Follow-up telephone calls at 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, and 26 weeks after discharge were also made.

Those patients who received hypnotherapy were also taught to do self-hypnosis and were given special hypnosis tapes to play at the end of the session.

At the end of the 26 weeks, following discharge, 50 percent of the patients who were treated with hypnotherapy were nonsmokers, compared with 50 percent of nonsmokers in the NRT/hypnotherapy group, 25 percent in the control group, and 15.78 percent in the NRT group.

“Our results showed that hypnotherapy resulted in higher quit rates compared with NRT alone,” Faysal Hasan, MD, North Shore Medical Center said. “Hypnotherapy appears to be quite effective and a good modality to incorporate into a smoking cessation program after hospital discharge.”

Patient data, based on cardio or pulmonary diagnosis, showed that patients admitted with cardiac problems were more likely to quit smoking at 26 weeks (45.5 percent) than patients who were admitted with a pulmonary problem (15.63 percent).

“Patients admitted with coronary symptoms may have experienced ‘fear and doom’ and decided to alter a major health risk to their disease when approached about smoking cessation,” Dr. Hasan said. “In contrast, pulmonary patients admitted for another exacerbation may not have felt the same threat. They likely felt they can live for another day and continue the smoking habit.”