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Guided Imagery Reduces Stress in Pregnant African American Women

10 Jul

This study used a 4-part guided imagery recording designed specifically for pregnancy-related stress.  It was created and narrated by the researcher. Some ideas from Staying Well with Guided Imagery were used in the development of the imagery.

Interestingly, the positive effects in this study were greatest at 8 weeks, and got no better after that, even though the study went to 12 weeks. This was similar to what Jennifer Strauss found in her 12-week study of sexually traumatized veterans who used guided imagery at the Durham V.A. – maximum benefit was achieved at 8 weeks. Dr Strauss wound up deciding that 12 weeks was overkill, and a subsequent study was designed to shorten the imagery intervention to 8 weeks.

Here is the abstract:

Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University and Texas Tech University evaluated the efficacy of a guided imagery (GI) intervention for stress reduction in pregnant African American women, early on during their second trimester.
This prospective longitudinal study of 72 women used a randomized, controlled experimental design with two groups conducted over 12 weeks.

The intervention was a CD with 4 professionally recorded tracts designed and sequenced to influence study variables.  Participants in both GI and usual care (UC) completed measures and donated 5 cc of blood at baseline, 8 weeks and 12 weeks. Participants also completed a daily stress scale.
A mixed-effects linear model tested for differences between groups for self-reported measures of stress, anxiety, and fatigue as well as corticotrophin releasing hormone (CRH), a biologic marker of stress.
Significant differences in perceived stress daily scores and at week 8 but not week 12 were found in the GI group compared to UC group. The GI group reported significantly less fatigue and anxiety than the UC group at week 8 but not week 12.

There were no significant differences in CRH levels between groups. Results suggest that GI intervention may be effective in reducing perceived stress, anxiety, and fatigue measures among pregnant African American women.

Citation:  Jallo N1, Ruiz RJ2, Elswick RK Jr1, French E3. Guided imagery for stress and symptom management in pregnant African American women. Evidence Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014; 2014:840923. doi: 10.1155/2014/840923. Epub 2014 Feb 25.

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