The goal of our studies is to determine whether CAM modalities can improve disease progression or the quality of life or for cancer patients. Anxiety is reported more often than any other psychological symptom in patients with or surviving cancer. Anxiety is of concern as it has been implicated in cancer progression. Current methods of anxiety reduction include medication and psychosocial interventions that require active mental engagement by the patient. A CAM modality used frequently by cancer patients is spirituality. One modality based on spirituality is energy-healing. While clients often claim decreased anxiety following energy-healing, this has not been rigorously tested. Studies of the beneficial effects of energy-healing on disease states have been inconclusive and relied mainly on non-physiological outcome measures.
Our aim was to design a study to determine whether energy-healing affects disease progression or anxiety in a cancer population, using physiological markers of outcome. Prostate cancer is a disease in which there is a serum marker for tumor progression, prostate specific antigen (PSA). Prostate cancer is also associated with high anxiety. The present application represents collaboration between physicians, basic scientists, psychiatrists, biostatisticians, and energy healers. We propose a pilot study in which newly diagnosed prostate cancer patients will be provided with energy-healing treatments for 4-weeks during the 6-8 week period between initial diagnosis and radical prostatectomy. PSA levels will be used to assess disease progression. Anxiety states will be monitored using and salivary cortisol and plasma DHEA assays in addition to validated psychometric instruments.
The Specific Aims are: 1) to determine the effects of energy-healing on cancer activity as measured by PSA levels in the blood, 2) to determine the effects of energy-healing on anxiety states using validated psychometric instruments, 3) to determine the effects of energy-healing on physiologic anxiety as measured by cortisol and DHEA levels. By incorporating no-treatment, sham healing, and Reiki treatment groups, we will determine whether any effects observed could also be obtained by a sham healer. We anticipate that these studies will provide insights into whether energy-healing holds promise as an adjunct to standard management of patients with prostate cancer. They would also provide insights into whether energy healing might be beneficial in decreasing anxiety in cancer patients.