Tag Archives: pain

Should You Go Under the Knife? A Review of Sham Surgery

image of man on hospital bed

Patients dealing with chronic pain and obesity have a difficult decision to make when facing surgery or minimally invasive procedures. With the help of their doctors, patients weigh the risks of the procedure including infection, cost, and the side effects, including those of anesthesia. However, a recent study by researchers showed that in some cases, surgery is no better than placebo, and in other cases that doctors and patients may not have all the information they need to make proper decisions.

Some Procedures No Better than Placebo

Researchers from Samueli Institute, National Institutes of Health, Harvard Medical School, Houston Methodist Hospital, the University of Maryland and the University of Munich, Germany systematically reviewed 55 studies comparing patient outcomes from actual surgical procedures to outcomes after “sham” procedures. Sham procedures mimic the ritual and process of surgery without actually performing the procedure.

The review encompassed more than 3,500 patients and showed that outcomes for surgery were about the same as placebo in the included procedures for pain, and marginally better in cases of obesity.

The results of the systematic review, which was published this month in the journal BMJ Open, have implications for clinical research and practice by arguing against the continued use of ineffective, invasive procedures—especially in the field of chronic pain – until more rigorous research is done on these procedures. Continue reading “Should You Go Under the Knife? A Review of Sham Surgery” »

When evidence matters, rigorous reviews for pain care

Graphic of connecting dots

Patients struggling with chronic pain need non-pharmacological therapies that can decrease pain, improve function and enhance quality of life. Our rigorous reviews have uncovered the evidence for various therapies that can be easily integrated into a pain practice such as massage therapy and manipulation, and self-care tools such as yoga, tai chi, music therapy, meditation and relaxation exercises.

Establishing a strong evidence base for self-care approaches helps answer the most challenging questions affecting the world’s health and wellness:

  • What can we add to the physician’s bag of tools to replace or supplement the prescription pad?

  • Are there self-care practices to include in a patient’s pain management solution set?

Samueli Institute evaluates pain from the view of the person as a whole and looks at the bigger picture of the “chronification” of pain that the patient experiences. This objective, third-party analysis of the evidence provides guidelines for clinical practice, policy decisions and research recommendations.

Samueli Institute’s research process was highlighted in a recent article in BMC Research Notes. Continue reading “When evidence matters, rigorous reviews for pain care” »

Creating Optimal Healing Environments for Patients with Advanced Illness


On September 15, Bonnie Sakallaris, PhD, RN, explored the role of an Optimal Healing Environment (OHE) in the context of advanced illness care in an hour-long webinar available for public viewing. The presentation was part of the Veterans Health Administration Employee Education System and included more than 120 participants including VA physicians, chaplains, nurses, and social workers. Continue reading “Creating Optimal Healing Environments for Patients with Advanced Illness” »

Faculty Announced for Hospice and Palliative Care Collaborative


Collab_Samueli-infographic-April-2015-WEB600x600Earlier this year Samueli Institute and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization partnered to launch a Breakthrough Series Collaborative on Hospice and Palliative Care. The structure of the collaborative is based on the Breakthrough Series model, the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Collaborative model for achieving breakthrough improvement.

A Breakthrough Series Collaborative is a short-term (6- to 15-month) learning system that brings together a large number of teams from healthcare settings to seek improvement in a focused topic area. Continue reading “Faculty Announced for Hospice and Palliative Care Collaborative” »

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