Research: LEE and COLLEAGUES,

Listed in Issue 161


LEE and COLLEAGUES, Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter & Plymouth, Exeter, UK.  review [34 refs] and evaluate the effectiveness of Reiki


The aim of this systematic review was to summarise and critically evaluate the evidence for the effectiveness of Reiki.


The authors searched the literature using 23 databases from their respective inceptions through to November 2007 (search again 23 January 2008) without language restrictions. Methodological quality was assessed using the Jadad score.


The searches identified 205 potentially relevant studies. Nine randomised clinical trials (RCTs) met our inclusion criteria. Two RCTs suggested beneficial effects of Reiki compared with sham control on depression, while one RCT did not report intergroup differences. For pain and anxiety, one RCT showed intergroup differences compared with sham control. For stress and hopelessness a further RCT reported effects of Reiki and distant Reiki compared with distant sham control. For functional recovery after ischaemic stroke there were no intergroup differences compared with sham. There was also no difference for anxiety between groups of pregnant women undergoing amniocentesis. For diabetic neuropathy there were no effects of Reiki on pain. A further RCT failed to show the effects of Reiki for anxiety and depression in women undergoing breast biopsy compared with conventional care. DISCUSSION: In total, the trial data for any one condition are scarce and independent replications are not available for each condition. Most trials suffered from methodological flaws such as small sample size, inadequate study design and poor reporting.


In conclusion, the evidence is insufficient to suggest that Reiki is an effective treatment for any condition. Therefore the value of Reiki remains unproven. [References: 34]


Lee MS,  Pittler MH and  Ernst E.   Effects of reiki in clinical practice: a systematic review of randomised clinical trials. [Review] [34 refs]  International Journal of Clinical Practice. 62(6):947-54. Jun 2008.


See also above Comment for Fellowes et al; although 205 potentially relevant studies were identified, only 9 randomized clinical trials met the inclusion criteria. Again, only those RCT studies which met the criteria were examined; the remaining studies were discarded. Although advocates of the Cochrane System would argue that that is exactly the point of their rigorous analysis, this researcher would point out that with almost no studies meeting the standards being set and all the other studies not being considered, this repetitive exercise is a pointless and has fully predictable outcomes every time.

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