Introduction Approximately 25% of all babies in North America are delivered via Caesarean section (C-section). Though a common surgical procedure, C-section recovery can be painful. Opioids, specifically codeine, are commonly used to ease pain; however, its active metabolite, morphine, passes into breast milk, and may produce unwanted side effects in neonates; therefore, alternatives to opioids are being sought. Reiki is an ancient Japanese form of healing where practitioners transfer healing energy through light touch and positive healing intention. Although 1.2 million Americans use reiki to reduce pain or depression, there is a lack of strong evidence supporting its effectiveness. A recent systematic review showed existing studies to be of poor methodological quality, with the common limitation of lack of blinding. To overcome this issue, the authors used distant reiki to assess its effectiveness in reducing pain following an elective C-section.
Methods In this randomised, double-blinded study, women who underwent an elective C-section were allocated to either usual care (control, n=40) or three distant reiki sessions in addition to usual care (n=40). Pain was assessed using a visual analogue scale (VAS). The primary endpoint was the Area Under the VAS-Time Curve (AUC) for days 1–3. Secondary measures included: the proportion of women who required opioid medications and dose consumed, rate of healing and vital signs.
Results AUC for pain was not significantly different in the distant reiki and control groups (mean±SD; 212.1±104.7 vs 223.1±117.8; p=0.96). There were no significant differences in opioid consumption or rate of healing; however, the distant reiki group had a significantly lower heart rate (74.3±8.1 bpm vs 79.8±7.9 bpm, p=0.003) and blood pressure (106.4±9.7 mm Hg vs 111.9±11.0 mm Hg, p=0.02) post surgery.
Conclusion Distant reiki had no significant effect on pain following an elective C-section.
Clinical Trial Registration Number ISRCTN79265996.
- pain management
- complementary medicine
- obstetrics and gynaecology
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To cite: vanderVaart S, Berger H, Tam C, et al. The effect of distant reiki on pain in women after elective Caesarean section: a double-blinded randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open 2011;1:e000021. doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2010-000021
Funding This research received no specific grant from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests SvdV is a reiki practitioner.
Ethics approval This study was approved by the Review Ethics Board (REB) at St Michael's Hospital in Toronto, Ontario.
Contributors SvdV and GK conceived the study. SvdV, HB, VMGJG, SNdW, AT and GK designed the study. SvdV, CT, YIG and VNGJG acquired the data. SvdV and GK analysed the data. SvdV drafted the article. All authors interpreted the data, revised the article critically for important intellectual content and approved the final version. GK had full access to all the data in the study and had final responsibility for the decision to submit for publication.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
Data sharing statement No additional data available.
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