“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 Gynecology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
According to the American Cancer Society, one-third to one-half of women do not follow screening guidelines for mammography. Previous studies had found that most women who fail to return for screenings following their initial mammogram cite pain during the procedure as the reason.
The authors hypothesized that listening to a relaxation tape before and during mammography would decrease women’s feelings of pain and anxiety, thereby improving their compliance with routine mammograms.
Before and during the screening, one group of subjects listened to a relaxation tape, one listened to music, and one was assigned a blank tape. When the mammogram ended, each subject estimated how much pain and/or anxiety she had experienced during the test.
The study found that there was little difference in 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.