Is reiki or prayer effective in relieving pain during hospitalization for cesarean? A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials

Sao Paulo Med J. Mar-Apr 2017;135(2):123-132. doi: 10.1590/1516-3180.2016.0267031116. Epub 2017 Apr 20.


Context and objective:: This systematic review compared reiki and prayer with drug use for relieving pain during hospitalization for cesarean, given that the popularity of integrative medicine and spiritual healing has been increasing. It had the aim of evaluating whether reiki or prayer is effective in relieving pain during cesarean section.

Design and setting:: Systematic review with meta-analysis conducted at Botucatu Medical School, UNESP, São Paulo, Brazil.

Methods:: The following databases were searched up to March 2016: MEDLINE, Embase, LILACS and CENTRAL. Randomized controlled trials published in English or Portuguese were included in the review. Two reviewers independently screened eligible articles, extracted data and assessed the risk of bias. A GRADE table was produced to evaluate the risk of bias.

Results:: There was evidence with a high risk of bias showing a statistically significant decrease in pain score through use of reiki and prayer, in relation to the protocol group: mean difference = -1.68; 95% confidence interval: -1.92 to -1.43; P < 0.00001; I2 = 92%. Furthermore, there was no statistically significant difference in heart rate or systolic or diastolic blood pressure.

Conclusion:: Evidence with a high risk of bias suggested that reiki and prayer meditation might be associated with pain reduction.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Cesarean Section*
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Faith Healing*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pain Measurement*
  • Pregnancy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Risk Factors
  • Therapeutic Touch / methods*