Reiki to Reduce Pain During Hemodialysis: A Systematic Review and Feasibility Study

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Reiki to Reduce Pain During Hemodialysis: A Systematic Review and Feasibility Study

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Background: Pain is one of the most prevalent symptoms among individuals receiving hemodialysis. Management is often suboptimal and effective interventions are needed. Reiki, a natural system of healing using universal life-force energy to heal, relax, and restore the whole person, is a promising, non-pharmacologic approach to pain management. A systematic review, conducted as a part of this dissertation research, found few studies of non-pharmacological, complementary therapy use for individuals receiving hemodialysis, and confirmed that Reiki’s impact is unknown in this population. Thus, the purpose of this study was to examine the feasibility and efficacy of Reiki for pain management among individuals receiving hemodialysis. The validity of computer adaptive technology (CAT) instruments compared with established symptom scales was also explored. Method: A one group, repeated-measures pilot study was conducted with a convenience sample of 15 individuals over four weeks. Pain, fatigue, and depression were measured using established symptom scales and CAT instruments. Reiki was administered for 20-minutes, twice per week during hemodialysis. Results: Recruitment goals fell short whereas target completion and adherence rates for Reiki were met. The study was feasible for participants and no adverse events from Reiki occurred. Participant feedback revealed positive experiences with Reiki and web-based measures. Hemodialysis staff feedback reported no impact on workflow and improvement observed in patients. Significant, moderate to very strong correlations with established symptom scales support the construct validity of the CAT instruments. There were significant improvements in pain, fatigue, and depression over the course of the Reiki sessions. Conclusion: Findings support Reiki as a promising, acceptable, low risk complementary intervention and support conducting future larger-scale randomized clinical trials with longer follow-up periods to evaluate the effects of Reiki for individuals undergoing hemodialysis.


University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. October 2017. Major: Nursing. Advisors: Cynthia Gross, Mary Hooke. 1 computer file (PDF); ix, 99 pages.

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Zins, Savannah. (2017). Reiki to Reduce Pain During Hemodialysis: A Systematic Review and Feasibility Study. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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