Serra, D., Parris, C. R., Carper, E., Homel, P., Fleishman, S. B., Harrison, L. B., & Chadha, M. (2012). Outcomes of guided imagery in patients receiving radiation therapy for breast cancer. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 16, 617–623.doi: 10.1188/12.CJON.617-623
To examine the effects of guided imagery on patient distress and symptoms during radiotherapy.
Patients received instruction on guided imagery during the first few days of radiotherapy treatment and participated in sessions with a nurse immediately prior to radiotherapy treatments. Sessions lasted about 30 minutes and involved relaxation and breathing exercises with visualization of a calming experience and setting. Patients were provided with a CD for home practice. Study measures were performed at baseline and at the end of radiotherapy treatments. Pre- and postsession pulse, blood pressure, and thermal biofeedback measures were obtained.
A quasiexperimental design was used.
EQ-5D subscale scores for anxiety and depression declined from a mean of 1.42 to 1.26 by the end of treatment (p = 0.01). There was a decline in overall distress scores (p = 0.04), but no significant changes occurred in depression, sleep, or fatigue scores. Patients showed immediate postsession reduction in respiratory rate and blood pressure but no significant differences in thermal biofeedback findings.
The findings suggest that relaxation and imagery can be helpful to patients during radiotherapy.
Findings suggest that relaxation therapy and imagery can be helpful to patients during radiotherapy treatment; however, this study had substantial design limitations that limited the strength of the evidence. Relaxation and imagery, and particularly patients’ use of these techniques on their own, pose no patient risks and can be a practical intervention that is helpful to patients during active treatment.