Purpose: Our aim was to explore the effectiveness of energy healing, a commonly used complementary and alternative therapy, on well-being in cancer patients while assessing the possible influence on the results of participating in a randomized controlled trial.
Methods: 247 patients treated for colorectal cancer (response rate: 31.5%) were either (a) randomized to healing (RH) or control (RC) or (b) had self selected the healing (SH) or control condition (SC), and completed questionnaires assessing well-being (QoL, depressive symptoms, mood, and sleep quality), attitude toward complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), and faith/spirituality at baseline, 1 week, and 2 months post-intervention. They also indicated, at baseline, whether they considered QoL, depressive symptoms, mood, and sleep quality as important outcomes to them.
Results: Multilevel linear models revealed no overall effect of healing on QoL (p = 0.156), depressive symptoms (p = 0.063), mood (p = 0.079), or sleep quality (p = 0.346) in the intervention groups (RH, SH) compared with control (SC). Effects of healing on mood were only found for patients who had a positive attitude toward CAM and considered the outcome in question as important (SH: Regression coefficient: -8.78; SE: 2.64; CI: -13.96 to -3.61; p = 0.001, and RH: Regression coefficient -7.45; SE: 2.76; CI: -12.86 to -2.04; p = 0.007).
Conclusion: Whereas it is generally assumed that CAMs such as healing have beneficial effects on well-being, our results indicated no overall effectiveness of energy healing on QoL, depressive symptoms, mood, and sleep quality in colorectal cancer patients. Effectiveness of healing on well-being was, however, related to factors such as self-selection and a positive attitude toward the treatment.
Keywords: Cancer; Complementary and alternative medicine (CAM); Depressive symptoms; Healing; Mood; Quality of Life (QoL); Sleep quality.
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