Research Supports More Effective Choices Than Ever for Drug-Free Pain Relief During Labor and Delivery

Researchers coordinated by Professor Antonio Giordano, M.D., Ph.D., Founder and Director of the Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO) have highlighted the effectiveness of non-pharmacological analgesic techniques during childbirth in a review recently published in the journal Eukaryotic Gene Expression.

“The search for alternative analgesic techniques is a promising and exciting research field,” comments the first author, Dr. Antonio Melillo. “We aimed to give our contribution through an up-to-date and general review finally comparing the evidence on every single technique, in order to support the editing of guidelines offering women choice between more and more alternatives and solutions for their childbirth” 

Collaborators on the paper include a multidisciplinary international research group led by Giordano, who is also professor of pathological anatomy at the University of Siena, Italy and director of the Sbarro Institute for Cancer Research and Molecular Medicine at Temple University, Philadelphia. 

“I believe research prospers not on competition but on collaboration,” says Giordano. “Especially between different disciplines and professional figures, and when it encourages the contribution and the work of young researchers.”The study involved Prof. Maurizio Guida, full professor of Obstetric-Gynecological Sciences at the University of Naples “Federico II,” Prof. Giuseppe De Pietro, director of the Institute for High Performance Computing and Networking of the CNR and Dr. Andrea Chirico, researcher at the Department of Developmental and Socialization Psychology of the University of Rome “La Sapienza.” 

The group, jointly dedicated to the experimentation of new technologies such as Virtual Reality as a possible therapy for pain and psychological discomfort, presented the result of the systematic review of the existing literature on alternative techniques of analgesia in the course of labour. 

“The “Federico II” University Hospital works daily to offer our expectant mothers an ever more joyful as well as tailored start to the amazing journey of maternity,” says Guida. “This work and the many studies we are conducting show not only our contribution to scientific progress, but our attention to the needs and the point of view of our patients.”

Through the meta-analysis of the evidence published in 63 articles, for a total of 6146 patients involved, the authors highlighted the effectiveness of various non-invasive techniques on labour pain, including massage techniques, music therapy, hypnosis, thermotherapy, and distraction through Virtual reality. The research group aims, with this and other studies in progress to contribute to the search for alternative or complementary techniques and technologies to analgesic drugs both in the gynaecological field and more generally in the medical field.

“The ICAR institute is working daily with the Sbarro Institute and the whole research team to study the possible applications of technology to healthcare,” says De Pietro, “offering our expertise and the know-how of our team of engineers like dr. Luigi Gallo on computing, human-computer interface, robotics and virtual reality.”The research of the group on pain analgesia relies also on the latest scientific evidence on the neurophysiology of pain and the well-known and proven influence of psychological factors on its perception. 

“So far, the experience of a childbirth from a psychological point of view is something unforgettable for a woman,” says Chirico. “Often this experience is not related only to a new life, but also is related to the most painful experience. But something is changing in the research field.”

Original Newswise Release

About the Sbarro Health Research Organization

The Sbarro Health Research Organization (SHRO) is non-profit charity committed to funding excellence in basic genetic research to cure and diagnose cancer, cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and other chronic illnesses and to foster the training of young doctors in a spirit of professionalism and humanism. To learn more about the SHRO please visit

To see more information about our Founder & Director Dr. Antonio Giordano visit:

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