Researchers at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan explored the impact of guided imagery on women with interstitial cystitis (a syndrome with symptoms of urinary frequency, urgency and pelvic pain).

Thirty (30) women with diagnosed IC were randomized into 2 equal groups. The treatment group listened to a 25-minute guided imagery compact disc (CD), created specifically for women with pelvic pain and IC, twice a day for 8 weeks. The focus of the guided imagery CD was on healing the bladder, relaxing the pelvic-floor muscles, and quieting the nerves specifically involved in IC. The control group rested for 25 minutes twice daily for 8 weeks. Effects were measured with baseline and end-of-study assessment questionnaires (Interstitial Cystitis Symptom Index & Problem Index [IC-SIPI], IC Self-Efficacy Scale, a visual analogue [VAS] scale for pain, and a global response assessment [GRA]). Additionally, 2-day voiding diaries, and 24-hour pain diaries were completed by the subjects. More than 45% of the treatment group were responders to guided imagery therapy noting a moderate or marked improvement on the GRA. Pain scores and episodes of urgency significantly decreased in the treatment group. Responders had significant reductions in IC-SIPI scores (problem index, p = 0.006; symptom index, p = 0.004). In addition, responders on the GRA had significant (p = 0.039) improvements in mean pain scores from 5.50 to 2.57 at the end of the study in contrast to the nonresponders, whose pain levels remained the same (4.89 to 4.39).

This study provides preliminary data supporting the use of guided imagery as a potential therapy for IC, and concludes that guided imagery may be a useful tool without negative side-effects, is readily available, and trends toward improving IC symptoms.

Citation: Carrico DJ, Peters KM, Diokno AC. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 2008 Jan 16 [Epub ahead of print] Guided Imagery For Women with Interstitial Cystitis: Results of a Prospective, Randomized Controlled Pilot Study.