A Feasibility Study to Assess the Acceptance and Use of Reiki as an Adjunct Therapy for Chronic Pain in Military Health Care Facilities
Abstract Introduction: Reiki, a biofield energy therapy, continues to struggle in finding its permanent place among the portfolio of complementary and alternative medicine modalities in many military health care facilities. Although it has been shown to help in the management of pain, lack of knowledge and limited first-hand experience impact its foothold. The purpose of this feasibility study was to (1) educate participants about the concept of Reiki, (2) give participants the opportunity to experience six Reiki therapy sessions and subsequently assess outcomes on chronic pain, and (3) assess participants' impression of and willingness to continue using and recommending Reiki therapy as adjunct for the treatment of chronic pain. Methods: Using a prospective repeated measures pre- and postintervention design, a convenience sample of 30 military health care beneficiaries with chronic pain were educated about Reiki and received six 30-minute Reiki sessions over 2 to 3 weeks. Pain was assessed using a battery of pain assessment tools as well as assessment of impression of and willingness to share the concept of Reiki. This study was approved by the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command Institutional Review Board (No. M10617). Results: Repeated measures ANOVA analyses showed that there was significant decrease (P < 0.001) in present, average, and worst pain over the course of the six sessions with the most significant effect occurring up to the fourth session. When a variety of descriptor of pain was assessed, Reiki had a significant effect on 12 out of the 22 assessed, with the most significant effect on pain that was described as tingling/pins and needles (P = 0.001), sharp (P = 0.001), and aching (P = 0.001). Pain's interference with general activity, walking, relationships, sleep, enjoyment of life, and stress significantly decreased (P < 0.001 to P = 0.002). Impression of improvement scores increased 27% by session 6, and one's knowledge about Reiki improved 43%. Eighty-one percent of the participants stated that they would consider scheduling Reiki sessions if they were offered with 70% desiring at least four sessions per month. Conclusion: A 30-minute Reiki session, performed by a trained Reiki practitioner, is feasible in an outpatient setting with possible positive outcomes for participants who are willing to try at least four consecutive sessions. Reiki has the ability to impact a variety of types of pain as well as positively impacting those activities of life that pain often interferes with. However, education and the opportunity to experience this energy healing modality are key for its acceptance in military health care facilities as well as more robust clinical studies within the military health care system to further assess its validity and efficacy.
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