"I think it's an old wives tale that mammograms hurt," says the study's lead author Alice Domar, PhD, Director of the Mind/Body Center for Women's Health at Boston IVF and senior psychologist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). "Our results showed that women find mammograms to be a very benign experience."

Previous studies had found that the majority of women who fail to return for repeat screenings following their initial mammogram cite pain during the procedure as the reason.

Knowing that relaxation techniques have been effective in reducing pain and anxiety during radiological procedures such as endoscopy, arteriography and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, the authors hypothesized that listening to a relaxation tape prior to and during mammography would decrease women's feelings of pain and anxiety and thereby improve their compliance in undergoing routine mammograms.

A total of 150 subjects were divided into three groups: those who listened to a relaxation tape, those who listened to music, and a control group, who were assigned a blank tape. The tapes were played both prior to and during the mammogram screening. When the mammogram had been completed, each subject was asked to fill out two self-report questionnaires and to provide an estimate of how much pain and anxiety they had experienced during the test.

Analysis of the results found that - contrary to expectations - there were no significant differences in terms of pain perception between the subjects who listened to the relaxation tape and the other two groups, the reason being that none of the three groups reported undue distress, according to Domar. "Virtually none of the participants experienced pain or anxiety," she says. "We were quite surprised at the outcome."

MEDICA.de; Source: Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center