Reiki in Hospitals -Investigations into Reiki and its use in hospitals

Copyright 2002-2010, Hans Van Leeuwen

In 1998 the United States Congress established the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in response to the growing interest and use of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) in the United States. A published survey shows that the number of Americans using an alternative therapy rose from about 33 percent in 1990 to more than 42 percent in 1997. In addition, Americans spent more than $27 billion on these therapies in 1997, exceeding out-of-pocket spending for all U.S. hospitalizations. A survey published in 1994 reveals that more than 60 percent of doctors from a wide range of specialties recommended alternative therapies to their patients at least once. In addition, 47 percent of the doctors in this study reported using alternative therapies themselves. Indeed, 75 out of 117 U.S. medical schools offered elective courses in CAM or included CAM topics in required courses, according to an article published in 1998. Another survey found that people used CAM not only because they were dissatisfied with conventional medicine, but because these health care alternatives mirrored their own values, beliefs, and philosophical orientations toward health and life.

The following examples are only a few of the studies performed in numerous hospitals and universities.

Dr. Ahlam Mansour, of the College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan, Canada received a research grant from the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative (CBCRI) to conduct a feasibility study of the effects of Reiki on the level of anxiety, physical problems, spiritual well-being, and complete blood counts in breast cancer patients undergoing their initial (AC) chemotherapy. (Source: Office of Communications, University of Saskatchewan, Canada,

Scientifical publications can be found in the online databases of Medline from the National Library of Medicine. The Medline databases can be accessed for free at Here are some examples of scientifical publications related to Reiki.

Kennedy, P. 2001. “Working with survivors of torture in Sarajevo with Reiki.” Complementary Therapies in Nursing & Midwifery. Vol. 7: pages 4-7.

While working as a nurse/therapist in Sarajevo, I had the opportunity to work in an experimental situation at a center for torture survivors. This was to see if the use of Reiki would have a beneficial effect on this type of patient. It involved a rethink on traditional Reiki hand positions, music, and the general set-up of the room being used. It was a challenge, and one I was delighted to have had. The people I worked with were wonderful, and the changes in them over the period were so positive. The staff at the Center were delighted; I was delighted; but so much more importantly, the patients were delighted. The ground has now been broken and hopefully will be considered in a positive light for other traumatized patients.

Mansour AA, Beuche M, Laing G, Leis A, Nurse J, 1999. “A study to test the effectiveness of placebo Reiki standardization procedures developed for a planned Reiki efficacy study.” Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. April, Vol. 5(2): pages 153-64.

The purpose of this study was to test the standardization procedures developed by our research team for placebo Reiki, before going ahead and conducting our planned full-scale randomized and placebo-controlled Reiki efficacy study. The placebo practitioners were trained in Reiki by the study Reiki Master and the principal investigator, but were not initiated. The belief in Reiki is that only practitioners that are initiated could give Reiki, thus making it possible to have a placebo arm in efficacy studies. The findings of the study indicate that the developed standardization procedures were successful because none of the final participants in round 4 (4 breast cancer patients and 4 observers) could differentiate between the identity of placebo and Reiki practitioners. It was concluded based on these findings that it is safe to go ahead and conduct the planned randomized 3-arm Reiki efficacy clinical trial. It is recommended that scholars interested in Reiki research could incorporate our techniques to strengthen their designs by adding a placebo arm.

Olson K, Hanson J, 1997. “Using Reiki to manage pain: a preliminary report.” Cancer Prevention Control 1997, June, Vol.1(2): pages 108-13.

The purpose of this study at the Cross Cancer Institute, Edmonton, Canada was to explore the usefulness of Reiki as an adjuvant to opioid therapy in the management of pain. Since no studies in this area could be found, a pilot study was carried out involving 20 volunteers experiencing pain at 55 sites for a variety of reasons, including cancer. All Reiki treatments were provided by a certified second-degree Reiki therapist. Pain was measured using both a visual analogue scale (VAS) and a Likert scale immediately before and after the Reiki treatment. Both instruments showed a highly significant (p < 0.0001) reduction in pain following the Reiki treatment.

Brewitt, B., Vittetoe, T, and Hartwell, B., 1997. “The Efficacy of Reiki Hands-On Healing: Improvements in spleen and nervous system function as quantified by electrodermal screening”. Alternative Therapies, July 1997, Vol.3, No.4, pg.89

Improvement in spleen, immune, and nervous system function were quantified by electrodermal screening, and a reduction of pain, an increase in relaxation, and more mobility was reported in patients with chronic conditions as multiple sclerosis, lupus, fibromyalgia, thyroid goitre.

Aladydy, Patricia and Kristen Alandydy, 1999. “Using Reiki to Support Surgical Patients”. Journal of Nursing Care Quality, 1999 Apr;13(4): pp. 89-91.

Surgical patients at Columbia/HCA Portsmouth Regional Hospital in Portsmouth, New Hampshire are given the option of a 15 minute pre- and post-surgery Reiki treatment. In 1998 more than 870 patients participated. As a result there was less use of pain medications, shorter lengths of stay, and increased patient satisfaction. This article discusses how this program was set up. Plans for the future include documentation of the benefits and the further use of complementary therapies.

Sawyer, Jeannette, 1998. “The First Reiki Practitioner in Our OR”. AORN Journal (Association of Operating Room Nurses), Mar; 67(3): pp. 674-7.

A patient at Dartmouth-Hitchock Medical Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire requested that her Reiki practitioner be present for her laparoscopic procedure. This article discusses the steps taken to fulfil this request and to develop requirements for allowing complementary healers in the operating room.

Bullock, Marlene, 1997. “Reiki: A Complementary Therapy for Life,” The American Journal of Hospice & Palliative Care. 1997 Jan/Feb; 14(1): pp. 31-3.

This article describes the treatment of a 70 year-old man with an aggressive cancer using palliative radiation and medication, and Reiki. Through her hospice experiences the author concludes that, “Some general trends seen with Reiki include: periods of stabilization in which there is time to enjoy the last days of one’s life, a peaceful and calm passing if death is imminent; and relief from pain, anxiety, dyspnoea and oedema. Reiki is a valuable complement in supporting patients in their end-of-life journey, enhancing the quality of their remaining days.”

Motz, Julie, 1998. “Hands of Life”. New York; Bantam Books, 1998

Reiki was used in the operating room of the Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center in New York City. The New York Times magazine reported about the use of Reiki during open-heart surgeries and hart transplantations performed by Dr. Mehmet Oz. None of the 11 heart patients treated with Reiki by Reiki Master Julie Motz experienced the usual postoperative depression, the bypass patients had no postoperative pain or leg weakness; and the transplant patients experienced no organ rejection.

“Reiki Technique Study to Control Chronic Pain in Diabetic Neuropathy”, The Department of Public Relations & Marketing Communications, University of Michigan,

The University of Michigan Complementary and Alternative Medicine Research Centre is studying Reiki, to determine whether chronic pain in diabetic neuropathy can be controlled, thereby increasing the patients’ quality of life. This is one of the first studies of this technique funded by the National Institutes of Health, and has the full support of the University of Michigan Health System.

The Reiki Clinic at the Tucson Medical Centre in Arizona has a team of Reiki practitioners who give Reiki to patients in their rooms. The program first began in the Cancer Care Unit, but has since expanded to many other areas in the hospital. Conditions treated at the Reiki Clinic include cancer, pain, chronic conditions, postoperative surgery, and they also deal with childbirth. (Source: “Reiki In Hospitals” by William Lee Rand, Reiki Master,