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Guided Imagery Lowers Pain, Depression in Fibromyalgia Sufferers

18 Jun

Researchers from the Department of Nursing and Physical Therapy at the University of Almeria and Poniente Hospital in Almeria, Spain evaluated the effects of guided imagery as a nursing intervention for pain management and depression in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Guided imagery has been used for different purposes and it is thought to be an effective intervention for people suffering from nonmalignant pain.

They conducted an 8-week long, 2-group, quasi-experimental study with 60 patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia, who were randomly assigned to either a guided imagery group (n = 30) or a control group (n = 30).

The outcomes measures were pain scores from the McGill Pain Questionnaire long form (MPQ-LF) and a Visual Analogue Scale (VAS); and depression scores from the Beck Depression Inventory and a VAS for depression. Effects were examined at baseline, post-intervention (4th week), and at 8 weeks post-intervention.

Treatment efficacy was analyzed by using a t test for paired samples. Temporal changes in the scores were examined by using a 2-way repeated-measures analysis of variance.

The treatment group reported statistically significantly lower levels of pain (P < .046) and depression (P < .010) than the control group at the week 4 evaluation. A statistically significant effect on pain as measured by the daily VAS diary was also found in the experimental group. At week 8, no significant differences were found for pain.

Investigators conclude that fibromyalgia patients may benefit from guided imagery for relief of pain and especially for depression. They feel it could be incorporated as part of regular treatment for people with fibromyalgia.

Citation: Onieva-Zafra MD1, García LH, Del Valle MG. Effectiveness of guided imagery relaxation on levels of pain and depression in patients diagnosed with fibromyalgia. Holistic Nursing Practice. 2015 Jan-Feb;29 (1): pp.13-21. doi: 10.1097/HNP.0000000000000062.

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.