Reiki intervention for supporting healthcare professional care behaviors in pediatric palliative care: A pilot study

Author: Giulia Zucchetti1, Sabrina Ciappina1, Cristina Bottigelli2, Gabriela Campione2, Annalisa Parrinello2, Paola Piu2, Stefano Lijoi1, Paola Quarello1,3, Franca Fagioli1,3
1 Pediatric Oncohematology Unit, Regina Margherita Children's Hospital, Turin, Italy.
2 Regina Margherita Children's Hospital, Turin, Italy.
3 University of Turin, Italy.
Conference/Journal: Palliat Support Care
Date published: 2023 Dec 22
Other: Pages: 1-6 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1017/S1478951523001852. , Word Count: 290

Pediatric healthcare professionals (HCPs) working in a palliative setting may experience challenges during their clinical practice in addressing the complex end-of-life phase of children and their families. Nurses, especially, have a frontline role in providing assistance, thereby becoming at risk of physical and psychological burden. Pediatric psychologists have an ethical responsibility to help colleagues by proposing self-care interventions that will improve their well-being and, indirectly, the work climate. This study investigated the impact of a complementary therapy, delivered by a pediatric psychologist and a nurse, on physical and psychological variables among nurses at the Paediatric Hospice of the Regina Margherita Children's Hospital in Italy.

Thirty-five nurses participated in 5 weeks of Reiki sessions for an overall total of 175 sessions. The effect of the sessions was analyzed through a paired t-test analysis comparing the values of heart rate, oxygen saturation, and systolic and diastolic pressure collected before and after each session. The same test was conducted comparing the values of the 3 burnout subscales for each of the 35 nurses collected before the beginning of the first session with those collected at the end of the last session 2 months later.

Results underlined a positive short-term effect with a significant decrease in heart rate before and after each session (t = 11.5, p < .001) and in systolic pressure (t = 2, p < .05). In addition, a decrease in emotional exhaustion symptoms was found (t = 2.3, p < .05) at the end of the intervention.

Significance of results:
Reiki could be a valid strategy to complement traditional pediatric psychology clinical practice designed to protect HCPs from emotional and physical demands and to create a more supportive workplace for staff and patients alike.

Keywords: Pediatric psychologist; burnout symptoms; complementary and alternative practice; healthcare providers; pediatric palliative care.

PMID: 38131135 DOI: 10.1017/S1478951523001852