Guided Imagery Research (77)
Researchers from the College of Nursing, Kent State University conducted a pilot study to determine the effect of a guided imagery (GI) intervention over an 8-week period on pain and pain disability in a sample of patients with chronic, non-cancer pain (CNCP); and to then analyze the mediating effects of neuroendocrine and neuroimmune functioning on outcome variables.
A simple interrupted time-series design (12-week period) was used. Guided imagery was introduced at Week 4 and used daily by 25 participants for the remaining 8 weeks.
Measures of pain and pain disability were obtained at the beginning of the study period and at six repeated 2-week intervals.
Measures of hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation (plasma, cortisol), immune-mediated analgesia (lymphocyte subset counts and proliferation), and immune-mediated hyperalgesia (interleukin-1β) were obtained at the beginning of the study and at Week 11.
Investigators from the Continuum Cancer Centers of the New York Beth Israel Medical Center evaluated the impact of guided imagery on patients undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer.
Eligible patients receiving guided imagery sessions were monitored via biofeedback before and after each session. Measures included blood pressure, respiration rate, pulse rate, and skin temperature.
In addition, the EuroQoL Group's EQ-5D health questionnaire was used for subjective assessment and patient feedback was collected at the end of radiation therapy through a satisfaction survey.
Measured parameters revealed statistically significant improvement from baseline, with decreases noted in respiration rate and pulse rate as well as systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Skin temperature increased, indicating more peripheral capillary flow as a result of a decrease in the sympathetic response.
Researchers from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia launched a small feasibility study to assess the impact of the Bonny Method of Guided Imagery and Music on six outpatients in cardiac rehabilitation, as part of their treatment plan to effectively marshall physical, psychological, and vocational strategies to restore and sustain optimal health.
Starting 6 to 15 weeks after cardiothoracic surgery, 6 study participants were recruited for 6 weekly music therapy (BMGIM) sessions. Qualitative analysis of the patient narrative within a semiotic framework demonstrated that patients used music therapy to spontaneously explore their recovery process.
Researchers from the Swami Vivekananda Yoga Research Foundation in Bangalore, India studied the effect of integrated yoga practice and guided relaxation on both perceived stress and measured autonomic response in healthy pregnant women.
The 122 healthy women in the study were recruited between the 18th and 20th week of pregnancy at prenatal clinics in Bangalore, India, and were randomized to practicing yoga and deep relaxation or standard prenatal exercises 1-hour daily. Forty-five participants in each group completed the study, and were evaluated by repeated measures analysis of variance.
Investigators from Mind Matters Research in Anchorage, Alaska summarized their Phase I National Cancer Institute (NCI)-funded clinical trial with 34 breast cancer survivors, six weeks to one year post-treatment, who were recruited to participate in a 6-class, 8-week long imagery stress reduction program entitled "Envision the Rhythms of Life."
Patients practiced imagery during and between sessions. Outcomes for quality of life and cortisol rhythm were assessed pre- to post-intervention, in two subsets of survivors (intravenous [IV] chemotherapy, or no IV chemotherapy).
Researchers from the University of Hartford reviewed the findings to see if a high level of hypnotic suggestibility (considered a stable individual trait) is necessary for a hypnotic pain intervention to relieve headache pain.
Higher suggestibility has been found to be associated with greater relief from hypnotic pain interventions, and although individuals in the high suggestibility range show the strongest response to hypnotic analgesia, people of medium suggestibility (who represent approximately one third of the population) also have been found to obtain significant relief from hypnosis.
The researchers conclude that high hypnotic suggestibility is not necessary for successful hypnotic pain intervention for headache – medium suggestibility works too . But the available evidence does not support the efficacy of hypnotic pain interventions for people who fall in the low hypnotic suggestibility range. According to some studies, these subjects may benefit from imaginative analgesia suggestions (guided imagery), or suggestions for pain reduction that are delivered while the person is not under hypnosis.
IMAGERY SHOWS BIG GAINS FOR POST-STROKE HEMIPARESIS
Researchers from the Wingate Institute in Netanya, Israel, tested the feasibility of using a home-based motor imagery gait training program to improve walking performance of people suffering from chronic poststroke hemiparesis.
Seventeen community-dwelling volunteers with hemiparesis caused by a unilateral stroke that occurred at least 3 months before the study were recruited. They received 15 minutes of supervised imagery gait training in their homes 3 days a week for 6 weeks. The intervention addressed gait impairments of the affected lower limb and task-specific gait training.
Walking ability was evaluated by kinematics and functional scales twice before the intervention, 3 and 6 weeks after the intervention began, and at the 3-week follow-up.
Researchers from the School of Nursing,Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA investigated the effects of a 10-week mind-body intervention (guided imagery with relaxation) on symptom management for Hispanics suffering from Fibromyalgia, a chronic pain disorder of unknown origin which affects 2% of the population in the United States. Another 16 million Hispanics suffer from generically identified rheumatic diseases that likely include FM. The pilot study used a repeated-measures pretest-posttest design.
A critical review out of the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto, California, examined the research on guided imagery’s effects on the immune system. The author states that studies suggest that guided imagery can:
- reduce stress and elevate the immune system;
- that cell-specific imagery affects corresponding white blood counts (WBCs), neutrophils and/or lymphocytes;
- that decreases in white blood counts occur in the initial stages of GI and relaxation, due to fluctuations in WBC production or margination;
- and that changes in WBC count or adherence occur earlier in medical patients.
The study concludes with thoughts about where further investigations
should go, including the definition of the ideal white blood count; the
effects of long-term practice of guided imagery; and the influence of
cell-specific imagery on WBCs.
Citation: Trakhtenberg EC. The effects of guided imagery on the immune system: a critical review. International Journal of Neuroscience. 2008 Jun; 118 (6): pages 839-55.