Participating in a yoga class, getting a massage or receiving a reiki session all resulted in significant improvements in the sense of well-being among cancer patients, according to recent research. However, the patients who received reiki reported a greater reduction in cancer pain than those who received a massage or participated in a yoga class.
The study, “The effects of yoga, massage and Reiki on patient well-being at a cancer resource center,” involved 150 patients at a cancer resource center. Of these patients, all of whom had a diagnosis of cancer, 137 were women and 13 were men.
These subjects were already self-enrolled in yoga, massage and reiki services at the cancer resource center. For the study, 50 participants from yoga, 50 recipients of massage and 50 recipients of reiki volunteered to fill out a questionnaire before and after they attended the yoga class or received a session of massage or reiki therapy.
The main outcome measure for this study was patients’ self-perceived well-being. This was defined by six specific factors: stress, pain, anxiety, mood, overall health and quality of life. All six factors were assessed on a 10-point scale immediately before and after each patient received the designated therapeutic service.
Results of Integrative Therapies
Results of the research showed that yoga, massage and reiki all contributed to decreased stress and anxiety, improved mood, and enhanced patients’ perception of overall health and quality of life. As far as pain, analysis of the patient surveys showed that reiki therapy resulted in a greater reduction in cancer-related pain than either massage therapy or yoga.
“A fact worth noting is that, although cancer center patrons are able to enroll in any service, when patrons expressed pain concerns to a center staff member, they were encouraged to enroll in Reiki and refrain from yoga and massage, which instead are prime integrative therapies for alleviating stress and anxiety,” stated the study’s authors.
According to the researchers, one of the goals of this study is to help inform program directors at cancer resource centers of the benefits of specific integrative therapies for individual cancer patients. That way, patients can be directed to the integrative therapy that might offer the most help for their particular issues.
“The findings from this study address a void in the literature on how cancer resource centers should best administer integrative cancer therapies—including yoga, massage and Reiki—in accordance with the needs of patients with cancer,” stated the authors.
About the Study
Authors: Mark Rosenbaum and Jane Van de Velde.
Sources: College of Business, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois; Reiki Share Project, Villa Park, Illinois. Originally published in June 2016 in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 20(3), E77-81.