PEP Topic 

Reiki (pronounced "RAY-kee") is a form of "energy healing" that uses vibration drawn through the practitioner into the recipient, in accordance with the recipient’s need. Proponents hypothesize that Reike re-establishes the energy balance in areas of the body associated with discomfort, thus promoting healing and increasing quality of life. Researchers have evaluated Reike in patients with cancer for its impact on anxiety, depression, pain, and fatigue.

Effectiveness Not Established

Research Evidence Summaries

Potter, P.J. (2007). Breast biopsy and distress: Feasibility of testing a Reiki intervention. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 25, 238–248.


Study Purpose:

To determine the feasibility of testing a Reiki intervention, a complementary therapy, on women undergoing breast biopsy; to determine the effectiveness of a Reiki intervention in the sample

Intervention Characteristics/Basic Study Process:

Two-group design: conventional care group (CCG) and Reiki intervention group (RIG)

Sample Characteristics:

  • The sample was composed of 32 participants; 17 in RIG and 15 in CCG.
  • Mean participant age was 52 years (SD = 8.86 years); the age range was 37–75 years.
  • All participants were female.
  • Of all participants, 32 were undergoing diagnostic breast biopsy.
  • Most participants were Caucasian: in RIG 13, or 76%, were Caucasian; in CCG, 13, or 87%, were Caucasian.


  • Multisite
  • Outpatient
  • United States

Phase of Care and Clinical Applications:


Study Design:

Randomized controlled single-blind trial

Measurement Instruments/Methods:

  • State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), by Spielberger
  • Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CESD)
  • Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS)


Neither group displayed significant distress (as operationalized by the three measures) either before or after breast biopsy. Likewise, the study showed no significant difference in any of the measures between groups (RIG and CCG) over time. Over time (pre- to post–breast biopsy), the A state did not decrease significantly in either group (F (2) = 4.78, p = 0.0119) in regard to the HADS total (F (1) = 6.18, p = 0.0187) or HADS anxiety subscale (F (1) = 12.96, p = 0.0011).


One cannot conclude that Reiki was an effective intervention for reducing biopsy-related distress.


  • The study had a small sample, with fewer than 30 participants.
  • The degree of blinding is unclear; the study contains contradictory information.
  • Data-collection time points are not clearly described—how long exactly after biopsy, what was the range of time points for collection of T3 data? Furthermore, the author discusses postintervention telephone interviews, but neither the purpose of the interviews nor the data collected in them are reported.
  • Data-collection procedures for the CCG group were not explained: Who was interviewed, both groups or only RIG participants?
  • Many practitioners provided the intervention; treatment variations may have resulted.

Nursing Implications:

Findings do not support the effectiveness of Reiki under the conditions of the study.