Guided Imagery Reduces Stress and Anxiety in Patients Undergoing Radiation Therapy

December 11, 2009
Melissa Weber

Guided imagery decreased stress and relieved anxiety in patients who used the technique before and after radiation therapy for breast cancer, according to a study presented during a poster session at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Guided imagery decreased stress and relieved anxiety in patients who used the technique before and after radiation therapy for breast cancer, according to a study presented during a poster session at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium.

Patients in the study, conducted at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York, learned how to focus on a pattern of breathing and gradually relax their muscles. Once relaxed, patients visualized themselves in a comfortable and safe place. During a state of full relaxation, patients focused on specific characteristics about that place to sustain a sense of strength and calm. The 68 participants used guided imagery before each daily radiation treatment and at home, and were given a CD to help them practice and a diary to track their use of the technique.

As a scientific measurement of the impact of guided imagery on the body, researchers looked at pulse rate, blood pressure, and respiration rate—all of which decreased after the use of guided imagery—and skin temperature, which increased following guided imagery. In addition to the body’s positive response, patients expressed high levels of satisfaction with this integrative method.

Patients can learn more about guided imagery from the American Cancer Society and can find a qualified guided imagery practitioner through the Academy for Guided Imagery.

This article is a part of CURE’s 2009 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium coverage. To read more articles from SABCS 2009, visit sabcs2009.curetoday.com.