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October, 1988
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A pilot study was conducted to investigate whether psychobiosocial intervention could be a useful adjunct to medical management of premature labor. 44 women threatening premature delivery (range of 20 to 34 weeks gestation) were referred by hospital clinicians. Nineteen of these patients were hospitalized, 28 were on tocolytic medication, and 42 on total bedrest. Hypnosis was used with all subjects; 77% also received body awareness techniques designed to decrease autonomic reactivity and muscle tension. Average treatment was seven two-hour sessions over three weeks. Forty women (91%) progressed to term; three who did not had twins and one patient, who was at 4 cm. dilation when diagnosed, received only one hypnosis session. Common issues expressed during hypnosis, their impact on the pregnancy, and how they were modified are discussed. The positive results of this study suggest that a randomized, controlled trial of psychobiosocial interventions during premature labor is warranted.


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Lewis E. Mehl, M.D., Ph.D.

The author gratefully acknowledges the help of graduate students Michael Rabinoff, Leslie Bowman, and Ann Rawley Karlen, who assisted him with literature review and tracking references. He also acknowledges the involvement of the following clinicians in the clinical treatment that was provided to the patients: Robert Levine, Leslie Bowman, Gayle Peterson, Dr. Gilbert Lanese, Dr. Susan Strong, Wynn Tamura, Angelina Borbon, and Kate Amatruda. This paper was presented at the 4th biennial conference of the Preand Peri-natal Psychology Association of North America, San Francisco, California, July, 1987. Address communication to Dr. Mehl at: Health Resources Group, 3699 Clay Street, Suite 2, San Francisco, CA 94118.