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Guided Imagery Improves Radiation Therapy Experience of Cancer Patients

10 Dec

Researchers from the Continuum Cancer Center at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York 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. Monitored measures included blood pressure, respiration rate, pulse rate, and skin temperature.

In addition, the EuroQoL Group's EQ-5D 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 secondary to a decrease in the sympathetic response.

Overall, 86% of participants described the guided imagery sessions as helpful, and 100% said they would recommend the intervention to others. The results of this study illustrate the positive impact of guided imagery as measured through subjective and objective parameters. Improving the overall care for patients with breast cancer supports the value of incorporating guided imagery into standard integrative medicine practice.
Citation: Serra D, Parris CR, Carper E, Homel P, Fleishman SB, Harrison LB, Chadha M. Outcomes of guided imagery in patients receiving radiation therapy for breast cancer.  Clinical Journal of Oncological Nursing. 2012 Dec 1;16 (6): pages 617-23. doi: 10.1188/12 CJON, pages 617-623.

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