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A pilot study on guided imagery for cancer pain.

15 Dec

Kristine Kwekkeboom and her team from The University of Iowa College of Nursing studied which variables predicted the successful use of guided imagery as a pain management strategy for cancer patients..

Kristine Kwekkeboom and her team from The University of Iowa College of Nursing have been studying predictors of the successful use of guided imagery for some time now. This pilot study, with a one-group pretest-posttest design, examines whether peoples’ ability to effectively use imagery as a pain management strategy can be predicted for individual cancer patients.

The study examined imaging ability, outcome expectancy, history of past imagery use, belief in the imagery provider and preferred coping style, sampling 62 hospitalized cancer patients who reported experiencing pain that was rated greater than or equal to a "3" rating on a 0 to 10 scale.

Patients completed questionnaires and used an audiotaped imagery intervention. Pain outcomes included mean pain intensity and distress, positive and negative affect, and perceived control over pain.

A path analysis was conducted using multiple regression to evaluate the relationships hypothesized in the model. Previous history with imagery predicted outcome expectancy, but outcome expectancy was not a significant predictor of pain outcomes. Only imaging ability predicted mean pain intensity, positive affect, and perceived control over pain.

These findings suggest that after considering current symptom experience, imaging ability may be a useful variable to assess in order to determine whether guided imagery is an appropriate intervention for individual patients; but that previously touted placebo effects - believing the intervention will help and believing in the provider - had no impact on outcome.


Citation: Kwekkeboom KL, Kneip J, Pearson L.A pilot study to predict success with guided imagery for cancer pain. Pain Manag Nurs. 2003 Sep;4(3):112-23. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .
Belleruth Naparstek

Psychotherapist, author and guided imagery pioneer Belleruth Naparstek is the creator of the popular Health Journeys guided imagery audio series. Her latest book on imagery and posttraumatic stress, Invisible Heroes: Survivors of Trauma and How They Heal (Bantam Dell), won the Spirituality & Health Top 50 Books Award