Rx for pain relief: 30 minutes with a story

If you know or have children suffering from a pandemic turmoil, there may be a way to avoid using medications to relieve their pain and stress: read the story to them.

Brazilian scientists who studied the effects of storytelling and Riddle-based games on children admitted to the intensive care unit found that stories lower stress hormone levels in young patients, lower self-reported pain scores, and hospitals. I found that the result was to talk more actively about, doctors and nurses.

“Our findings provide a psychophysiological basis for the short-term benefits of storytelling,” said the study’s authors. I have written In the minutes of the National Academy of Sciences.

The results provide a simple and inexpensive intervention that can relieve the physical and psychological distress of hospitalized children, the authors said. And they say storytelling can have a powerful impact on children’s well-being beyond hospital settings, including children whose home and school life remains disrupted by the coronavirus. It suggests that.

The pandemic has some similarities to the ICU situation in the sense that we are trapped. We are very worried and afraid to get sick. not. [things] It will be better, “said the lead author. Guilherme Brockington, Physicist at ABC Federal University in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

Humans love stories, whether they are telling or listening to them. This applies from childhood to old age and across languages ​​and cultures. Studies have shown that love for stories may have played a decisive adaptive role in human society, influencing emotions and building connections with each other. Psychologically, stories allow us to draw meaning from the sometimes chaotic world and learn the complexity and pitfalls of social interaction through the safety of the subrogation experience.

Researchers have hypothesized why stories have such an effect. This is an idea called “transportation of stories”. By weaving a tapestry of language, text and imagination, the story immerses the mind and mind. And as the world of the story becomes more direct and more “realistic,” the real world becomes a little further away and more difficult to access — at least for a while.

“If you are listening to the story, your psyche will be taken away from the hospital and to another place in this kind of imaginary realm,” he said. Raymond MarHe was a psychologist at York University in Toronto and was not involved in the study.

“The transport and mental simulation of these stories helps to reconstruct personal experiences, broaden perspectives, deepen emotional processing, empathize, and coordinate self-modeling and emotional experiences. “Masu,” wrote the author of the study.

In other words, storytelling seems like a powerful tool that will last forever. Therefore, it is common to have storytelling programs for young patients in hospitals around the world.

Still, those benefits remain almost anecdotal. For this study, Brockington and his colleagues wanted to build a case based on scientific evidence.

To do so, researchers have focused their efforts on children in the intensive care unit who are already dealing with the difficulties and pain associated with their illness. Moreover, leaving home or school can deprive them of routines that bring them comfort and safety, impede their development, and can affect them in other ways even after they are discharged. There is.

Scientists have recruited 81 children admitted to the ICU at Rede D’Or São Luiz Jabaquara Hospital in São Paulo. They were 2 to 7 years old and suffered from similar symptoms such as asthma, bronchitis, and respiratory problems caused by pneumonia.

The children were randomly divided into two groups. In the experimental group, 41 people participated in the program. Trained volunteer Read your child’s story for 25-30 minutes. Patients were able to choose one of eight stories commonly found in Brazilian children’s literature. (They can ask you to change or reread at any time.)

In the control group, the volunteers played a different role, spending the same time solving interesting mysteries to the remaining 40 children. The idea was to control the amount of time, attention, and social interaction each child receives, regardless of whether they are getting a riddle or a story.

The research team examined children’s reactions at multiple levels.Researchers collected saliva samples from each participant before and after the session and tracked changes in levels. Cortisol (Hormones related to stress) Oxytocin (Hormones associated with empathy and emotional processing).

The children also underwent a subjective test before and after each activity to report the level of pain they were feeling on a scale of 1 to 6. Finally, they participated in an oral free association task by explaining the impression of seven cards depicting the relevant subjects of nurses, doctors, hospitals, medicine, patients, pain, and books.

Overall, mysteries and stories had a positive impact. Cortisol levels decreased, oxytocin levels increased, and subjective pain reports were alleviated.

There was one important difference. The story seemed to be about twice as effective as the mystery. Oxytocin levels increased 9-fold after storytelling intervention, but 5-fold after riddles. Cortisol levels in the children who spoke were reduced by about 60%, compared to a 35% reduction in children who worked on riddles.

Regarding pain, the average score of children who listened to the story decreased from 3.85 points to 1.15 points (down 2.7 points), and the average score of children with riddles decreased from 3.72 points to 2.18 points (1.54 points).

In word associative games, the reaction from the story group tended to be more positive for “hospital,” “nurse,” and “doctor” than for the riddle group. For example, if you look at a picture of a hospital, the story kid calls it a place where people get better, and the riddle kid says “people go when they’re sick.”

According to scientists, this evidence strongly supports the therapeutic power of the story.

“It would have been impressive to have just one psychophysiological measurement. It’s great to get two. Combining it with the variety of other types of reports is a really big job.” Ma said. “Again, the most impressive thing is that all four measurements give fairly consistent results.”

The results speak for themselves to the power of the story, the study author said.

“You go to another world through fantasy,” Brockington said. For at least a while, people can find themselves in a “better place, less stressful place”.

The stories unfolded in this study were easy and entertaining, but Ma wondered if stories on themes related to listeners’ plight would provide targeted assistance. Marr also said that he might broaden the definition of narrative to include other forms of narrative drama.

“I think it’s likely that all sorts of imaginative role-playing that will allow children to do some kind of work through the potential stress they have now will help,” he said. It was.

And children aren’t the only ones in need of stories, the senior author said. Jorge Mall, A neuroscientist at the Doll Institute in Rio de Janeiro. Adults can also benefit from having the story carry them.

As families spend more time together at home during a pandemic, it may be an opportunity to return to a long-lost tradition, such as exchanging stories around the fire.

“I think they should be very beneficial to everyone,” Mohr said.

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