Aim: The aim of this paper is to summarise and critically evaluate the evidence available from controlled clinical trials regarding the use of guided imagery as a sole adjuvant therapy for cancer patients.
Methods: Electronic searches for controlled clinical trials were carried out in eight databases and two clinical trial registers. Trials that featured guided imagery as a sole adjuvant therapy were included. No language restrictions were imposed. Data were extracted and validated independently by two researchers.
Results: Six randomised clinical trials were included. Detailed results were available for four studies only. Poor reporting and heterogeneous populations, interventions and outcome measures across trials precluded statistical pooling of results. The methodological quality was on average low. Three studies reported significant differences in measures of anxiety, comfort or emotional response to chemotherapy for patients who received guided imagery over the control groups. Two studies showed no differences between guided imagery and other interventions in any of the outcome measures.
Conclusion: Guided imagery, as a sole adjuvant cancer therapy may be psycho-supportive and increase comfort. There is no compelling evidence to suggest positive effects on physical symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. The data seem sufficiently encouraging for the use of guided imagery as an adjuvant cancer therapy to merit further research. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.