Researchers from the Beaumont Health System in Royal Oak MI evaluated the effectiveness of massage therapy, with or without guided imagery, in reducing anxiety prior to cardiac catheterization.

A total of 55 inpatients and outpatients received massage, guided imagery, or massage with guided imagery prior to cardiac catheterization. Self-reported anxiety levels and blood pressure (BP) and heart rate (HR) were evaluated in participants and a matched comparison group.

Massage with and without guided imagery resulted in significant reductions in self-reported anxiety (p < 0.0001). Additionally, patients receiving the intervention had lower diastolic BP and HR vs. the comparison group (p < 0.0001 and p < 0.05).

The investigators conclude that massage, with or without guided imagery, immediately reduces self-reported anxiety. However, this pilot study has certain limitations: a non-randomized, convenience sample and a matched control group that was created retrospectively.

All that notwithstanding, the study indicates a benefit to providing massage or massage with guided imagery prior to anxiety-inducing medical procedures such as cardiac catheterization.

Citation: Armstrong K1, Dixon S2, May S3, Patricolo GE4. Anxiety reduction in patients undergoing cardiac catheterization following massage and guided imagery. Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. 2014 Aug 23. pii: S1744-3881(14)00049-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2014.07.009. [Epub ahead of print] [email protected].