Investigators from the Continuum Cancer Centers of the New York Beth Israel Medical Center evaluated the impact of guided imagery on patients undergoing radiation therapy for breast cancer.

Eligible patients receiving guided imagery sessions were monitored via biofeedback before and after each session. Measures included blood pressure, respiration rate, pulse rate, and skin temperature.
In addition, the EuroQoL Group's EQ-5D health questionnaire was used for subjective assessment and patient feedback was collected at the end of radiation therapy through a satisfaction survey.

Measured parameters revealed statistically significant improvement from baseline, with decreases noted in respiration rate and pulse rate as well as systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Skin temperature increased, indicating more peripheral capillary flow as a result of a decrease in the sympathetic response.

Overall, 86% of participants described the guided imagery sessions as helpful, and 100% said they would recommend the intervention to others. The results of this study illustrate the positive impact of guided imagery, as measured through subjective and objective parameters.
The researchers conclude that improving the overall care for patients with breast cancer supports the value of Incorporating practices of integrative oncology such as guided imagery into standard practice improves overall care for patients with breast cancer undergoing radiation therapy.

Citation: Serra D, Parris CR, Carper E, Homel P, Fleishman SB, Harrison LB, Chadha M. Outcomes of guided imagery in patients receiving radiation therapy for breast cancer. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing  2012 Dec;16 (6): pages 617-23.