Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant

Department Chair

John Cavenagh, PhD, PA-C


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether or not Reiki therapy decreases pain during chemotherapy and radiation treatment in patients with gynecological and breast cancer.

STUDY DESIGN: Review of two randomized control trials and one randomized prospective cross-over study published in 2003, 2004, and 2011.

DATA SOURCES: One double blind randomized control trial, one 2-arm single blind randomized control trial and one randomized, prospective, 2-period crossover intervention study comparing Reiki therapy to placebo. Articles were found using PubMed and Medline.

OUTCOMES MEASURED: Pain by BPI (brief pain inventory linear analog scale), SF-36 questionnaire, daily log of medication use, HTCQ linear scale, and Well-being analog scale.

RESULTS: The study by Caitlin et al showed a slight increase in physical comfort in patients who received Reiki therapy verses those who received standard care during chemotherapy. However, sham Reiki therapy showed a statistically significant increase in physical comfort from an attentive presence of a designated nurse at the bedside. According to Cook et al, Reiki therapy showed a statistically significant decrease in a patient’s pain level verses a patient receiving standard care for radiation therapy. In addition, Reiki and Massage therapy was more effective at reducing pain in one 45-minute intervention (short-term relief) than a patient who received standard care shown in a study conducted by Post-white et al.

CONCLUSIONS: Results from the three studies showed a decrease in pain when Reiki therapy is administered during radiation and chemotherapy. However, one study concluded there is no statistical difference in pain management when comparing Reiki therapy and sham Reiki. Another study discovered both Reiki and Massage therapy decreased pain when compared to standard care. In conclusion, there is no convincing evidence that Reiki therapy alone relieves pain, however, human touch with or without energy transfer showed positive benefits. Thus, further studies with adequate sample sizes, non-biased participants, and a greater variety of subjects from different treatment centers should be considered to determine if this alternative approach reduces pain.