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Article Newspaper/Magazine

Text messaging reduces analgesic requirements during surgery



This study aims to determine whether communicating via short message service text message during surgery procedures leads to decreased intake of fentanyl for patients receiving regional anesthesia below the waist compared with a distraction condition and no intervention.


Ninety-eight patients receiving regional anesthesia for minor surgeries were recruited from a hospital in Montreal, QC, between January and March 2012. Patients were randomly assigned to text message with a companion, text message with a stranger, play a distracting mobile phone game, or receive standard perioperative management. Participants who were asked to text message or play a game did so before receiving the anesthetic and continued until the end of the procedure.


The odds of receiving supplemental analgesia during surgery for patients receiving standard perioperative management were 6.77 (P=0.009; N=13/25) times the odds for patients in the text a stranger condition (N=22/25 of patients), 4.39 times the odds for those in the text a companion condition (P=0.03; N=19/23), and 1.96 times the odds for those in the distraction condition (P=0.25; N=17/25).


Text messaging during surgery provides analgesic-sparing benefits that surpass distraction techniques, suggesting that mobile phones provide new opportunities for social support to improve patient comfort and reduce analgesic requirements during minor surgeries and in other clinical settings.

J. Guillory
J. Keilman
C. Woodruff
J.T. Hancock
Pain Medicine, 16, 667-672
Publication Date
April 2, 2015