Report on Results of the LifeSpark Study

A Pilot Study of the Impact of Healing Energy Therapies on Quality of Life of Patients Undergoing Cancer Treatments

ABSTRACT

LifeSpark Energy Partners program provides Reiki and Healing Touch energy therapies to patients with cancer. Recipients of energy therapies have reported decreased fatigue, sleeplessness, anxiety, and increased well-being.

To date this study has assessed the impact of energy therapies in a sample of 108 patients who were undergoing cancer treatment in the Metro Denver area of Colorado. Using the Brief Symptoms Inventory (BSI) and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (FACIT) FACT-G self-report measures, this study compared psychological distress, fatigue, physical and functional well-being and feelings of peace/meaning at Baseline (before energy therapy) and at Session 12 (after 11 weekly sessions).

The results showed a statistically significant reduction (p<0.001) of negative symptoms on the Global Severity Index of the BSI (31%) and the FACIT TOI (16%) between Baseline and Session 12. Significant improvement (p<0.001) was observed in all three sub-measures of the BSI—Depression (42%), Somatization (27%) and Anxiety (37%). Significant improvement (p<0.001) was observed on all FACIT subscales–Physical Well-Being16%, Functional Well-Being 17%, Fatigue 13%, and Peace/Meaning subscales 9%.

 

These results indicate a strong positive effect of these energy therapies on study participants. 

 

September 27, 2013
Report on Results of the LifeSpark Study:

A Pilot Study of the Impact of Healing Energy Therapies on

Quality of Life of Patients Undergoing Cancer Treatments

Presented

INTRODUCTION

Reiki and Healing Touch are gentle, hands-on energy therapies that work with the body’s own ability to heal itself. Prior studies of Healing Touch and Reiki have shown positive effects. In a large multi-site, randomized crossover study of patients receiving outpatient chemotherapy, weekly Healing Touch significantly reduced fatigue (p< 0.02) (Post-White et al., 2003; Mitchell et al., 2007). Significant reductions were reported in immediate pain after healing therapy compared with rest only. However, no significant differences were noted after one month of treatment (Post-White et al., 2003). Likewise, a study of Reiki compared with a control group showed significant decrease in pain from days 1 to 4 for those patients receiving Reiki, but showed no significant reduction of opioid use (Olson et al., 2003). However, these studies were limited by high attrition rate, lack of blinding, variability in data collection, small sample size, short duration, and lack of sham control (Bardia 2006).

A study of Healing Touch on anxiety, depression, fatigue and subjective burden of caregivers of stem cell transplant patients found a reduction in anxiety, depression, fatigue and subjective burden but changes were not statistically significant (Rexilius et al 2002).

A randomized controlled trial of Healing Touch and health related quality of life in women receiving radiation treatment for cancer showed statistically significant improvement between baseline and after eight treatments in emotional Role Functioning, Mental Health, and Health Transition. The Healing Touch group reported better outcomes in all nine domains of SF-36 from the Medical Outcomes Study. Significant differences were found between the two groups in the vitality, pain and physical functioning subscales (Cook et al., 2004).

METHODS

Participants and Procedures

This study to date has assessed the impact of Reiki and Healing Touch energy therapies on quality of life of 108 patients who were undergoing cancer treatment in the metro-Denver area of Colorado.

Using the Brief Symptoms Inventory (BSI) and the Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (FACIT), psychological distress, fatigue, physical and functional well-being and feelings of peace/meaning were compared at Baseline (before energy therapy) and after 12 sessions. The study used a pre/post test design that was non-randomized and without a control group.

Participants in this study were adult male and female cancer patients with any type or any stage of cancer. All were receiving standard medical treatment for cancer and/or were being monitored by a medical oncology professional. Preference was given to those currently receiving medical treatment

Recruitment into the study occurred at the first LifeSpark session. Patients were given written information explaining the study, steps to maintain confidentiality, and that their participation was optional. LifeSpark practitioners delivered the surveys to their participating clients at the beginning of the 1st and 12th sessions (before the hands-on session). Participants filled out their survey without aid from the practitioners. Surveys were then collected by the practitioner and mailed to the LifeSpark offices.

To date, one hundred and eight (108) participants have completed all or most sections of the Baseline and Session 12 surveys. All participants in this study received 12 sessions and may have received either Reiki or Healing Touch.

Sessions were conducted by volunteer practitioners in the LifeSpark program who were trained in one of these two modalities (a minimum of two Healing Touch or Reiki levels), had experience in the modality (a minimum of 50 sessions), and had been screened through criminal background checks and reference checks. In addition, all practitioners attended an 18-hour Provider Seminar covering ethics, professionalism, boundaries, and issues specific to cancer patients. Sessions occurred weekly at designated churches and medical centers in the Metro-Denver area.

Data was analyzed using SPSS statistical package.

Measurement Instruments

Brief Symptom Inventory 18 (BSI-18)

The BSI-18 is an 18 item patient-reported inventory used to measure psychological distress during the preceding seven days. It has been used by health care professionals to assess patients at intake, measure patient progress during and after treatment, support managed care decisions, and provide outcomes measurement. Each item is rated on a five-point scale with a higher score indicating a greater level of distress. The BSI-18 includes submeasures for somatization, depression and anxiety. These can be averaged to obtain a Global Severity Index (GSI) (http://www.pearsonassessments.com/bsi18.aspx).

Psychometric properties and norms for the BSI-18 were developed from a study of 1543 male and female patients in a regional cancer center. The mean GSI score for the sample was 8.42. Based on prior research, the cut-off point for distress in the clinical range was determined to be the 25th percentile. This percentile fell at a score of 10 for men and 13 for women (Zabora et al., 2001). A second study of 2776 male and female cancer patients showed a mean GSI score of 10 for men and 12 for women with 38% of all patients meeting the criteria for clinical level of distress (Carlson et al., 2004).

Functional Assessment of Chronic Illness Therapy (FACIT) FACT-G

The FACIT Measurement System is a collection of Quality of Life (QOL) questionnaires used to assess and manage chronic illness. It is an expanded version of the Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy (FACT) series of questionnaires. On the FACT-G scale, each item is rated on a five-point scale from 0-4 with a higher score indicating better function or well-being. Using normative data collected on 1,075 men and women drawn from the general U.S. population, mean scores were determined for subscales: 40.1 for the 13-item Fatigue subscale (FS); 22.7 for the 7-item Physical Well Being (PWB) subscale; and 18.5 for the 7-item Functional Well Being (FWB) subscale (http://www.facit.org).

FACIT Trial Outcome Index (TOI)

The FACIT-F Trial Outcome Index (TOI) score is obtained by combining the scores of the Physical Well-Being, Fatigue, and Functional-Well Being subscales. Possible FACIT TOI scores range from 0-108. A higher score reflects better function, well-being and less fatigue.

In a study of the effects of surgery on the quality of life of women with operable breast cancer, participants completed PWB and the FWB subscales pre and post surgery. Scores on the PWB and FWB subscales decreased significantly post-surgery (p<0.001) (Manjoi et al., 2005). A 2005 study of long-term survivors of Hodgkin’s disease compared fatigue in survivors to fatigue in their siblings. Thirty-seven percent of survivors scored at or below the cut-point (Ng et al., 2005).

FACIT Meaning/Peace

The 12-item FACIT-Sp Meaning Peace subscale is a commonly used measure of the religious/spiritual components of quality of life in patients with cancer. Scores range from 0 to 48 with a higher score reflects a higher level of feelings of meaning and peace.

In a study of 240 long-term female survivors of cancer who averaged 10 years post-diagnosis, mean score for the Meaning/Peace subscale was 26.1 (Canada et al., 2007)

RESULTS

BSI-18

Global Severity Index (GSI)

The GSI combines the results of the three sub-measures. A higher score indicates greater psychological distress.

The mean scores at Baseline and Session 12 were 18.2 and 11.8 respectively (Table 1). This represented a 31% overall positive improvement between Baseline and Session 12 (p<0.001).

A mean score of 13 indicates a clinical level of distress in general population studies (Zambora et al., 2001). At baseline 65% of study participants experienced clinical levels of distress as compared to 35% of participants at Session 12 (Table 2).

Somatization, Anxiety, and Depression Sub-measures

All three BSI sub-measures showed highly significant improvements between Baseline and Session 12. Symptoms of Somatization decreased by 27% (p<0.001), Anxiety decreased by 37% (p<0.001), and Depression decreased by 42% (p<0.001) (Table 1).

FACIT FACT-G

FACIT-TOI

The TOI combines the results of the Physical and Functional Well-Being and Fatigue subscales. A higher score in this test indicates greater well-being. Approximately 78% of participants experienced a higher score at Session 12.

The mean TOI scores at Baseline and Session 12 were 63.2 and 75.5 respectively. This represents a 16% overall improvement (p=<0.001) in patient well-being.

Statistically significant improvements (p=<0.001) in scores were observed between Baseline and Session 12 in all subscales. Physical Well-Being increased by 16%, Functional Well-Being increased by 17% and symptoms of Fatigue were lessened by 13% (Table 1). )

Relative to the mean score of the general U.S. population, e norms, in the Physical Well-Being subscale, at Baseline 75% of patients scored worse than the norm as compared to 55% at Session 12. In the Functional Well-Being subscale, at Baseline 71% of patients scored worse than the norm as compared to 42% at Session 12. In the Fatigue subscale, at Baseline 77% of patients scored worse than the norm as compared to 60% at Session 12 (Table 2).

FACIT Meaning/Peace

The mean score for the Meaning/Peace subscale was 32.5 at Baseline and 35.7 at Session 12 (p=.<001). This represents a 9% improvement in participants feeling of meaning and peace (Table 1).

SUMMARY

Cancer patients in this study receiving Reiki or Healing Touch energy therapies experienced highly significant improvement in their overall quality of life. The level of psychological distress as measured by the BSI-18 Global Severity Index was significantly reduced between Baseline and Session 12 (p<0.001). The greatest change was observed in the Depression subscale (a 42% decrease in symptoms of depression). Statistically significant improvement was observed between Baseline and Session 12 in all measures of the FACIT. Improvements were seen in the Physical (16%) and Functional Well-Being (17%), Fatigue (13%), and Meaning/Peace (9%) subscales.

Results from this study are promising. The impact of energy therapies on quality of life of cancer patients merits further research, preferable with a control group and randomized design.

Sample size was inadequate to allow for adjustments based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, marital status, stage of cancer, type of cancer, type of treatment or other variables that may have modified the effect of the treatment.

The lack of a control group limits the applicability of these results to cancer patients as a whole. Participants who received the energy therapies did so voluntarily and represented a select group that likely had confidence or at least hope that the therapy would increase their well-being.

References

Canada, A.L., Murphy, P., Fitchett, G., Peterman, A., & Shover, L. (2008). A 3 factor model for the FACITsp. Psycho-Oncology 17, 908-916.

Carlson, L., Angen, M., Cullum J., Goodey, E., Koopmans, J., Lamont, L., MacRae, J.H., Martin, M., Pelletier, G., Robinson, J., Simpson, J.S.A., Speca, M., Tillotson, L., & Bultz, B.D. (2004). High levels of untreated distress and fatigue in cancer patients. British Journal of Cancer 90, 2297–2304.

Cook, CA., Guerrerio, JF, & Slater, VE. (2004). Healing Touch and quality of life in women receiving radiation treatment for cancer: A randomized controlled trial. Alternative Therapies 10, 34-41.

Padney, M., Thomas, BC., Ramdas, K., & Ratheesan K. (2006). Early effects of surgery on quality of life of women with operable breast cancer. Japanese Journal of Clinical Oncology 36, 468-472.

Ng A., Li S., Recklitis C., Neuberg D., Chakrabarti S., Silver B., & Diller L. (2005). A comparison between long-term survivors of Hodgkin’s disease and their siblings on fatigue level and factors predicting for increased fatigue. Annals of Oncology 16, 1949-1955.

Olsen, D., Hanson, J., & Michaud, M. (2003). A phase II trial of Reiki for the management of pain in advanced cancer patients. Journal of Pain Symptom Management 26, 990-997.

Post-White, J., Kinney, ME., Savik, K., Gau, J., Wilcox, C., & Lerner, I. (2003). Therapeutic massage and Healing Touch improve symptoms in cancer. Integrated Cancer Therapy 2, 332-334.

Rexilius, S., Mundt, C., Megal, M., & Agrawal, S. (2002). Therapeutic effects of massage therapy and Healing Touch on caregivers of patients undergoing autologous hematopoietic stem cell transplant.

Zambora, J., BrintzenhofeSzoc, K., Jacobsen, P., Curbow, G., Piantadosi, S., Hooker, B.S., Owens, A., & Derogatis, L. (2001). A new psychosocial screening instrument for use with cancer patients. Psychosomatics 42, 241-246.

Table 1

Change in BSI and FACIT Scores Between Baseline and Session 12

Measure/number completed

Baseline

Session 12

   
 

Mean

SD

Mean

SD

% change

p value  
BSI-18 GSI (n=108)

18.2

10.3

11.8

7.3

31%

<.001

 
Somatization (108)

6.2

3.4

4.5

3.1

27%

<.001

 
Anxiety (108)

6.3

4.9

4.0

3.5

37%

<.001

 
Depression (108)

5.7

4.8

3.3

2.9

42%

<.001

 
FACIT-F TOI (n=108)

63.2

20.5

75.5

18.8

16%

<.001

 
Physical Well-being (n=101)

17.5

5.7

20.8

5.2

16%

<.001

 
Functional Well-being (n=105)

15.7

4.9

18.9

4.6

17%

<.001

 
Fatigue (n=101)

30.0

11.4

34.4

10.7

13%

<.001

 
FACIT Meaning/Peace (n=103)

32.5

9.7

35.7

7.8

9%

<.001

 

 

Table 2

Mean Scores of Study Participants Compared to Mean Scores of Populations with Cancer (BSI) and the U.S. General Population (FACIT)

Measure Mean score

 

Mean score LifeSpark

Baseline

LifeSpark baseline

percent

experiencing clinical level of distress

 

Mean score LifeSpark Session 12 LifeSpark

Session 12 percent experiencing clinical level of distress

BSI-GSI (lower score indicates fewer symptoms) Cancer studies (women)

8.42 – 12

18.2 64% 11.8 35%
FACIT-TOI (higher score indicates fewer symptoms) U.S. General Population   Percent worse than U.S. mean   Percent worse than U.S. mean
Physical Well-Being 22.7 17.5 83.2% 20.8 64.1%
Functional Well-Being 18.5 15.7 72.4% 18.9 39%
Fatigue 40.1 30.0   34.4  

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