The increasing use of reiki as a complementary therapy in specialist palliative care

Int J Palliat Nurs. 2005 May;11(5):248-53. doi: 10.12968/ijpn.2005.11.5.248.


Palliative medicine and complementary therapies (CTs) have developed within the NHS as parallel philosophies of care. As a result, the last decade has seen an increase in the integration and usage of CTs, as adjunct therapies to conventional medical treatment. Documented benefits of relaxation, decreased perception of pain, reduced anxiety and improved sense of wellbeing have been shown to enable an enhanced quality of life, where curative treatment is no longer an option. Reiki is a more recent addition to the range of CTs available to cancer patients. As an energy-healing intervention it has gained in popularity as a non-invasive and non-pharmacological approach. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the profound relaxation effect has a positive impact on alleviating anxiety, stress, perception of pain and promotes a feeling of wellbeing particularly relating to the nature of psychospiritual wellbeing. However, there is very little evidence to support its application within clinical practice, and none within the specific field of specialist palliative care (SPC). This article will consider the position of reiki as an emerging CT within SPC. The function of the hospice movement, the role of CTs together with an understanding of energy healing will also be explored. Within this context, the rise in popularity of reiki and its potential benefits for SPC patients will be discussed. These considerations will then form the basis of the justification for further research in SPC.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anecdotes as Topic
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / prevention & control
  • Attitude to Death
  • Empathy
  • Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Holistic Health
  • Holistic Nursing
  • Humans
  • Medicine, East Asian Traditional
  • Models, Nursing
  • Nursing Evaluation Research
  • Palliative Care / methods*
  • Palliative Care / psychology
  • Patient Participation / psychology
  • Patient-Centered Care / methods
  • Philosophy, Nursing
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Care / methods
  • Self Care / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Therapeutic Touch / methods*
  • Therapeutic Touch / nursing
  • Therapeutic Touch / psychology