Pain relief, relaxation and lessening of anxiety—massage therapy and other touch therapies have effected all of these in hospitalized patients. New research shows more than 80 percent of hospitalized patients suffer more severe pain than necessary.

Researchers in Germany set out to measure pain in hospitalized patients, with the goal of improving pain management. Their project began in 2003, and their final report is running in the current issue the German Medical Association’s official international science journal. (Dtsch Arztebl Int 2010; 107[36]: 607-14.)

To study the quality of pain therapy, the authors evaluated anonymous questionnaires filled out by approximately 2,250 surgical patients and nearly 1,000 non-surgical patients from 25 hospitals, according to a press release from the journal.

In the period 2004 to 2006, the study participants were interviewed about the intensity of their pain and the effectiveness of pain therapy.

About one-third of both the surgical and the non-surgical patients complained of moderate to severe pain at rest, while more than half of each group complained of moderate to severe movement-related pain.

Fifty-six percent of the participating patients had pain that they described as unbearable, and ore than 55 percent of the patients questioned considered their pain therapy in the hospital to have been unsatisfactory.

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