Reiki, a form of energy work often practiced by massage therapists, reduced pain, depression and anxiety in older adults, according to new research.

Researchers set out to measure the effects of reiki as an alternative approach to helping community-dwelling older adults, according to a report published on

Study participants were randomly assigned to either an experimental or wait list control group. The pre- and post-test measures included the Hamilton Anxiety Scale, Geriatric Depression Scale-Short Form, Faces Pain Scale, and heart rate and blood pressure.

“The research design included an experimental component to examine changes in these measures and a descriptive component (semi-structured interview) to elicit information about the experience of having reiki treatments,” the report noted.

Significant differences were observed between the experimental and treatment groups on measures of pain, depression, and anxiety; however, no changes in heart rate and blood pressure were noted.

Analysis of treatment notes and interviews revealed five broad categories of responses:
• Relaxation
• Improved physical symptoms, mood and well-being
• Curiosity and a desire to learn more
• Enhanced self-care
• Sensory and cognitive responses to reiki.

The research is running in the journal Research in Gerontological Nursing

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