LifeSpark Research: Reiki May Improve Oncology Nurse Resilience

I recently presented the results of our Reiki for Oncology Nurses research project at the 2024 Colorado Cancer Coalition Symposium.  It was a poster presentation, and our study showed notable improvements in resilience for oncology nurses who learned Reiki as a self-care tool.

As a cancer organization, we support not only the individuals with cancer but also the oncology nurses who provide the medical care that they need. Even before COVID, oncology nurses were under incredible pressure; many were burning out and leaving the profession.  Today, the nursing shortage is even worse. But their work is essential for the health and well-being of those we serve.

That is why, in 2021-22, LifeSpark partnered with UCHealth to conduct a COMIRB-approved crossover design research study using Reiki as an intervention.  Fifteen oncology nurses at the Anschutz Cancer Center were randomly assigned to two groups. Cohort One was trained in First and Second Degree Reiki, while Cohort Two was the control.  The instruction took place over four months, and there was an expectation of daily self-Reiki practice. When this training was complete, Cohort 2 was trained using the same methods.

As measured by the Connor Davidson Resilience Scale, resilience improved by 16.3% right after training but dropped to 12.15% at three months and 8.5% at six-month intervals. Qualitative comments indicated that many of the nurses did not continue with the self-Reiki practice in the months following the training.

After four months of Reiki training, nurse resilience improved by 16% and then declined somewhat over the next six months.

This study suggests that Reiki training and self-Reiki practice may enhance emotional resilience for oncology nurses handling multiple stressors and experiencing burnout. However, more research is needed to determine if there is a correlation between continued self-Reiki practice and resilience over time.

Our next steps are to find funding for a much larger research study with an adequately powered sample size of 60+ nurses to evaluate this intervention fully.

We hope to continue our research efforts and collaborate with healthcare institutions like UCHealth to integrate Reiki into nurses’ daily routines. Together, we strive to create supportive environments that empower nurses to thrive—not just professionally but holistically.  Here is the link to the full article.

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