The author of this study introduces the subject by stating that Reiki is a biofield energy therapy that focuses on optimizing the body’s natural healing abilities balancing the life force energy or qi/chi. Reiki has been shown to reduce stress, pain levels, help with depression/anxiety, increase relaxation, improve fatigue, and quality of life.
Despite the fact that the author seems to have no doubt about the effectiveness of Reiki, she decided single-handedly to conduct a study of it – well, not a real study but a ‘pilot study’:
In this pilot randomized, double-blinded, and placebo-controlled study, the effects of Reiki on heart rate, diastolic and systolic blood pressure, body temperature, and stress levels were explored in an effort to gain objective outcome measures and to understand the underlying physiological mechanisms of how Reiki may be having these therapeutic effects on subjective measures of stress, pain, relaxation, and depression/anxiety.
Forty-eight subjects were block-randomized into three groups (Reiki treatment, sham treatment, and no treatment). The changes in pre-and post-treatment measurements for each outcome measure were analyzed through analysis of variance (ANOVA) post hoc multiple comparison test, which found no statistically significant difference between any of the groups. The p-value for the comparison of Reiki and sham groups for heart rate was 0.053, which is very close to being significant and so, a definitive conclusion can not be made based on this pilot study alone.
The author concluded that a second study with a larger sample size is warranted to investigate this finding further and perhaps with additional outcome measures to look at other possible physiological mechanisms that may underlie the therapeutic effects of Reiki.
I have a few questions about this paper:
- If a researcher already knows that a treatment works, why do a study?
- If she nevertheless does a study, why a pilot that is not meant for evaluating effects but for testing the feasibility?
- Why does the author calculate effects instead of evaluating the feasibility of his project?
- Why does the author try to interpret a negative outcome as though it signifies an almost positive effect?
- Why did someone who knows how to do research at the Ohio Wesleyan University (the author’s affiliation) not give her some guidance?
- Why did the reviewers of this paper let it pass?
- Why does any journal publish such rubbish?
Oh, the embarrassment!
It’s a journal for which I once (a long time ago) served on the editorial board.