(Medical Xpress)—Virginia Commonwealth University School of Nursing researchers have discovered that guided imagery significantly decreases stress, fatigue, pain and depression in women with fibromyalgia.
The study abstract, "Effects of Guided Imagery on Biobehavioral Factors in Women with Fibromyalgia," published online in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine, also found significant improvement in self-efficacy, the belief that one can cope regardless of the challenge. Individuals with a high level of self-efficacy seemed better able to manage symptoms that accompany a chronic illness.
The findings could help the estimated 5 million to10 million Americans who suffer from the chronic disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue. Sufferers have "tender points" that hurt when pressure is placed on them and symptoms often include anxiety or depression.
"The guided imagery intervention is low-cost, simple to use and easily accessible," said principal investigator and lead author Victoria Menzies, R.N., Ph.D., assistant professor in the Department of Adult Health and Nursing Systems. "This study provides support for the use of guided imagery as an adjunctive approach to clinical management of the challenging symptoms of fibromyalgia."
More than 70 women participated in the 10-week trial. Participants listened to a series of CD tracks that guided them in focusing on pleasant scenes and provided instruction related to experiencing an enhanced sense of well-being.
The intervention did not result in significant immunologic changes related to pro- or anti-inflammatory biomarkers, substances found in blood, other body fluids or tissues that signal whether an inflammatory condition is present.
Menzies recommends that future studies should further explore biobehavioral aspects of symptom management in individuals suffering from chronic illness.
The full study will be published in an upcoming edition of the Journal of Behavioral Medicine.