The Effect of Reiki on Pain and Anxiety in Women With Abdominal Hysterectomies – Surgery&Rehabilitation Example

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"The Effect of Reiki on Pain and Anxiety in Women With Abdominal Hysterectomies" is a wonderful example of a paper on surgery and rehabilitation. The article in question has been written by Anne T. Vitale and Priscilla C. O’ Connor under the title, The Effect of Reiki on Pain and Anxiety in Women With Abdominal Hysterectomies. It was published in Holistic Nursing Practice in 2006 and deals with a CAM treatment known as Reiki. The purpose of the study was to compare the reported pain and anxiety levels of two groups of women who had undergone an abdominal hysterectomy.

While there was no explicit hypothesis statement, it can be gathered from the article that the researchers support CAM therapies such as Reiki and their expectations are to find a positive result for Reiki being useful. They based this on the literature review they conducted as well as earlier experiments and information about touch-based therapies which have met with some success in the past. The previous research done on the topic shows that there could be some benefits gained from using Reiki as a therapy.

However, the researchers do not highlight any experimental report where Reiki created a measurable difference. They do however report that anecdotal evidence is certainly there to support an experimental test. The review of the literature concerned is quite extensive since it starts from Florence Nightingale and goes down to more recent developments with Reiki. Strengths It seems that the primary strength of the article is the simplicity of the experiment design since it uses just 22 participants in order to create the results of the study. The sample also has the strength of taking women candidates who are going through the same procedure which would essentially create similar levels of anxiety and pain amongst them.

While some of the women are likely to handle pain better than others, the similarity of the procedure eliminates any chances of one woman undergoing a procedure with is more strenuous than the others. More importantly, the methodology shows that randomization as well as security procedures such as conducting the Reiki sessions in private rooms were used to eliminate the Hawthorne effect. In terms of results, the researchers noted that the mean surgical time between the control and the experimental group was significantly different since the control group took longer and that could point to the idea that Reiki is a good relaxation technique to use before surgery. Weaknesses However, the article does have some significant weaknesses and the first of those is that it only included women; which makes it difficult to generalize to a mixed sample.

Secondly, the study was limited to 22 individuals while a larger more thorough study conducted with a larger sample over a longer period of time could lead to different results.

The experimenters also report using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory to report the anxiety levels of the participants and since some individuals within the group may be better at handling anxiety and stress than others, such individuals could skew the results. In this manner, the results of the study have to account for such individuals before it can be clearly stated that Reiki helps reduce pre and post-operative anxiety. Perhaps most importantly, the article notes that each Reiki master gives the treatment in his/her own way and there is no universal protocol which can be used to assess Reiki.

This is a serious flaw with the experiment since the traditional medicinal equivalent of this would be each doctor in the world giving some form of medicine which is administered according to his/her own will. Reproducibility of results is an important concern for experiments and since the treatment methodology and system used by a Reiki Master would vary from individual to individual, that could hamper the reproducibility of the experiment to a large extent. Recommendations The study can be redesigned to give better results which can build upon this study to give more credence to Reiki as a healing therapy.

The first requirement would be to have more people in the sample and instead of women undergoing a particular procedure; they should look towards getting a larger sample with women, children and men involved in the Reiki sessions.   This would create a broader base of the sample and give results which are more relevant to the population at large. Moreover, instead of keeping the therapy limited to a 72 hour period, it should be extended to a period of a few weeks which can help in getting results that are more accurate with regard to the management of pain.

Additionally, the experimenters should weed out those individuals who have had Reiki treatments before in order to prevent the contamination of results from those who have a predisposition towards the therapy. Implications Despite these issues, there are important implications for nursing practice which are mentioned in the article. First and most important, it is clear that the individuals seeking assistance are looking for a more positive role to be played by nurses and are looking for ways in which the healthcare services can be humanized.

Additionally, even though there have been objections to CAM treatments in the past, it seems that Americans are more than willing to invest in CAM and look for alternative treatments to traditional medicine. The article notes that Americans have spent between 36 to 47 billion dollars on CAM while nearly forty per cent of all Americans receive some form of CAM. Even if a nurse does not believe in these therapies it would be important for him/her to recognize that such therapies exist and may even be useful in reducing the anxiety levels of some patients even if that reduction is temporary.

One of the essential tenants for nurses is to help in the reduction of pain for the individuals in their care and if Reiki, Homeopathy or any other CAM treatment helps in reducing pain, it should be studied further and encouraged. A redesigned study which gives better results as to the positive effects of Reiki would be beneficial to the field of nursing since it would allow nurses to use Reiki as a tool for healthcare.

On the other hand, if a better experiment shows that Reiki has no effect on pain management or even a negative effect on health, it would allow nurses to make recommendations against Reiki as a waste of resources. In either case, it is important to keep an open mind and use experimental science to help guide the path of future medicine and nursing.


Vitale, A. and O’Connor, P. (2006). The Effect of Reiki on Pain and Anxiety in

Women With Abdominal Hysterectomies: A Quasi-experimental Pilot Study. Holistic Nursing Practice, 20(6): 263–272.

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