Investigation of standard care versus sham Reiki placebo versus actual Reiki therapy to enhance comfort and well-being in a chemotherapy infusion center

Oncol Nurs Forum. 2011 May;38(3):E212-20. doi: 10.1188/11.ONF.E212-E220.


Purpose/objectives: To determine whether provision of Reiki therapy during outpatient chemotherapy is associated with increased comfort and well-being.

Design: Double-blind, randomized clinical controlled trial.

Setting: Outpatient chemotherapy center.

Sample: 189 participants were randomized to actual Reiki, sham Reiki placebo, or standard care.

Methods: Patients receiving chemotherapy were randomly placed into one of three groups. Patients received either standard care, a placebo, or an actual Reiki therapy treatment. A demographic tool and pre- and post-tests were given before and after chemotherapy infusion.

Main research variables: Reiki therapy, sham Reiki placebo therapy, standard care, and self-reported levels of comfort and well-being pre- and postintervention.

Findings: Although Reiki therapy was statistically significant in raising the comfort and well-being of patients post-therapy, the sham Reiki placebo also was statistically significant. Patients in the standard care group did not experience changes in comfort and well-being during their infusion session.

Conclusions: The findings indicate that the presence of an RN providing one-on-one support during chemotherapy was influential in raising comfort and well-being levels, with or without an attempted healing energy field.

Implications for nursing: An attempt by clinic nurses to provide more designated one-to-one presence and support for patients while receiving their chemotherapy infusions could increase patient comfort and well-being.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects
  • Female
  • Holistic Nursing / methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy*
  • Neoplasms / nursing*
  • Neoplasms / psychology
  • Oncology Nursing / methods*
  • Outpatients / psychology
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Placebos
  • Stress, Psychological / nursing
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Therapeutic Touch / methods*


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Placebos