Purpose/objectives: To measure the effectiveness of customized guided imagery for increasing comfort in women with early stage breast cancer.
Design: Experimental longitudinal, random assignment to groups.
Setting: Two urban radiation oncology departments.
Sample: 53 women (26 in the experimental group, 27 in the control group) aged 37-81; 80% European and 10% African American with stage I or II breast cancer about to begin radiation therapy.
Methods: The experimental group was to listen to a guided imagery audiotape once a day for the duration of the study. The Radiation Therapy Comfort Questionnaire was self-administered at three time points: prior to the introduction of intervention and the beginning of radiation therapy (Time 1), three weeks later (Time 2), and three weeks after completing radiation therapy (Time 3). The State Anxiety Inventory was administered at Time 1 only.
Main research variables: The effect of use of guided imagery on comfort with anxiety as a control variable.
Findings: Pooled data indicated a significant overall increase in differences in comfort between the treatment and control group, with the treatment group having higher comfort over time. The data also revealed a significant linear trend in differences between groups. No significant interaction of group and time existed.
Conclusions: Guided imagery is an effective intervention for enhancing comfort of women undergoing radiation therapy for early stage breast cancer. The intervention was especially salient in the first three weeks of therapy.
Implications for nursing practice: Guided imagery audiotapes specifically designed for this population were resource effective in terms of cost, personnel, and time.