A pilot study to assess the effects of a guided imagery audiotape intervention on psychological outcomes in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft surgery

Holist Nurs Pract. Jul-Aug 2010;24(4):213-22. doi: 10.1097/HNP.0b013e3181e90303.


Depression and anxiety are associated with increased risk of postoperative cardiac events and death in patients who have undergone coronary artery bypass graft surgery. These risks persist even several months after the procedure. Guided imagery has been used with cardiac surgery patients for some time and with numerous anecdotal reports of considerable benefit. In addition, this therapy is low-cost and easy to implement, and the literature holds ample evidence for its efficacy in symptom reduction in various patient populations. It was thus hypothesized that preoperative use of guided imagery would reduce postoperative distress in patients undergoing coronary artery bypass graft. Fifty-six patients scheduled to undergo coronary artery bypass graft at Columbia University Medical Center were randomized into 3 groups: guided imagery, music therapy, and standard care control. Patients in the imagery and music groups listened to audiotapes preoperatively and intraoperatively. All patients completed psychological, complementary medicine therapies use, and other assessments preoperatively and at 1 week and 6 months postoperatively. Only preoperative distress was predictive of postoperative distress at follow-up. Use of complementary medicine therapies was high in all groups and this fact, in addition to the small sample size, may have accounted for the lack of significant relationship between imagery and postoperative distress. Regardless, this complementary and alternative medicine therapy remains palatable to patients. Given its efficacy in other patient populations, it is worth exploring its potential utility for this population with a larger sample.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Coronary Artery Bypass / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Imagery, Psychotherapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Music Therapy
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care
  • Postoperative Complications / psychology
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Tape Recording*