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J Holist Nurs. 2011 Dec;29(4):279-86. doi: 10.1177/0898010111412187. Epub 2011 Jul 19.

Guided imagery as a treatment option for fatigue: a literature review.

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Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, USA.



Fatigue is one of the most common complaints experienced among the general population. Because fatigue is recognized as a biobehavioral occurrence, a biobehavioral intervention such as guided imagery may be effective in reducing self-reported fatigue. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the research literature related to the use of guided imagery as a nonpharmacological mind-body intervention for the symptom of fatigue.


The electronic databases MEDLINE, CINAHL, PsychInfo, Psychology and Behavioral Sciences Collection and the Cochrane Library were searched from January 1980 to June 2010.


Of 24 articles retrieved, eight met the inclusion criteria and were included in this systematic literature review. FINDINGS were inconsistent regarding the effectiveness of guided imagery on fatigue. Studies varied in study length, duration of the applied guided imagery intervention, dosage, and whether the images were targeted to the purpose of the intervention.


Guided imagery is a simple, economic intervention with the potential to effectively treat fatigue, thus further research is warranted using systematic, well-designed methodologies Standardizing guided imagery interventions according to total duration of exposure and targeted imagery in a variety of different populations adequately powered to detect changes will contribute to and strengthen nursing's symptom-management armamentarium.

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