Nunes, D.F., Rodriquez, A.L., DaSilva Hoffman, F., Luz, C., Braga Filho, A.P. Muller, M.C., & Bauer, M.E. (2007). Relaxation and guided imagery program in patients with breast cancer undergoing radiotherapy is not associated with neuroimmunomodulatory effects. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 63, 647–655.doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychores.2007.07.004
The relaxation intervention was a 30-minute, therapist-led group with relaxation and visualization therapy (RVT) consisting of relaxation, guided imagery, progressive muscle relaxation, meditation, and deep breathing. Each group had up to four patients. The intervention was delivered daily for 24 treatments immediately following radiation treatments. Patients self-administered the treatment at home using audiotapes twice per day. Patients received telephone calls to remind them to perform the intervention at home. Measures of psychological, endocrine, and immunologic data were collected at baseline and after the 24-day intervention.
The study reported on a sample of 34 women with breast cancer receiving radiation treatments (intervention group = 20; control group = 14).
A randomized controlled trial design was used.
Analyses were controlled for basal anxiety levels (trait anxiety). The psychological scores did not change over time in the control group, but the experimental group showed significantly reduced levels of stress, anxiety, and depression scores following the 24-day RVT treatment (all p < 0.05). Experimental and control groups showed similar stress and depression scores at baseline. Patients in the experimental group were more anxious than patients in the control group at baseline.
While no biologic changes were noted with RVT, there were significant improvements in psychological functioning with RVT.
The study had small sample sizes.