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Shore Health's Awarded Reiki Program: Strategy and Outcomes PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

ImageShore Health's Awarded Reiki Program: Strategy and Outcomes

Summary:  Reiki is making headway in US hospitals. Last March, a Maryland newspaper gave one of these programs, at Memorial Hospital in the Shore Health System some local visibility when it was granted a "Health Care Heroes" award. This article, a second look at integrative medicine programs at Shore Health (see prior IBN&R article), examines the structure and outcomes of the Reiki program which led to this award. Note that between the original article and this, Shore has become part of the University of Maryland Medical System.

David Mercier, LAc, integrative leader, Shore Health
The July 2004 proposal to the Medical Executive Committee of Memorial Hospital at Shore Health on Maryland's Eastern Shore had some surprising elements. The medical team was being asked to consider an unconventional therapy (Reiki), new types of providers (certified Reiki therapists), surprising delivery method (teams of two or three therapists at a time), and atypical scheduling (evenings only, five nights a week). And all this was being proposed by a project developer with a background which was also not typical for the hospital: licensed acupuncturist David Mercier, LAc.

However, this proposal for delivering this energy therapy had three additional elements which certainly helped the medical committee digest and approve the non-conventional ideas.

Shore's Reiki volunteers (photo Baltimore Daily Record)

  • Mercier presented the project as a pilot, with a plan to measure outcomes.
  • He provided evidence of prior positive outcome in similar hospital environment, particularly using data developed by Molly Punzo, MD, at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut.  
  • A cost structure which made exploration especially palatable: services were to be delivered by team of volunteers.

wenty months later, the program and the Reiki therapists received the Health Care Heroes award from the Baltimore Daily Record.


Shore Health Reiki Program: At a Glance

Project  developer
     David Mercier, LAc     
Memorial Hospital at Easton
 30 volunteers
Scheduling 2 or 3 hour shifts,
5 nights/week 
2 or 3 therapists together
(4 or 6 hands);
10 to 60 minute sessions, depending
Outcomes measure

Visual Analog Scale, pre and post
treatment, on pain, anxiety
and malaise
  Medical executive committee, plus 
Departments  of Medicine,
Surgery, Orthopedics,
Institutional Review Board

Total treatments

Approx. 190 
Project duration

9 months
Current status
Expansion to rehab and multi-specialty
care units; also delivered to staff


Image The project proposal developed by Mercier, 
and shared with IBN&R, goes to great lengths to address concerns the medical staff might have. Particular attention was paid to practitioner selection. All were required to be interviewed by the project manager (Mercier), attend  training sessions led by a Reiki practitioner, and participate in a special orientation program.

Mercier also provided an elaborate, 16 point "Protocol" for the program. Eight patient selection criteria were enumerated. These included such characteristics as having no psychiatric, chemical dependency or dementia diagnoses, and basic alertness. All had to agree to participate in filling out the Visual Analogue Scale, pre and post, in which patients were asked to rate their condition on a scale of 1 to 10. The therapy was explicitly categorized as a "comfort measure." 


Shore Health Reiki Program: Preliminary Pilot Project Outcomes
(at four months)

Project  developer
     David Mercier, LAc     

19.3% saw reduction of -4 or greater
9% saw reduction of -6 or greater

Pre, 63% scored pain at 5+,
vs 35% post;
mean reduction: 2.31
(N=88, P<.0001)

35.5% saw reduction of -4 or greater
13.1% saw reduction of -6 or greater

Pre, 60.7% scored anxiety at 5+,
vs 17.9% post;
mean reduction: 2.80
(N=84, P<.0001)


32.6% saw reduction of -4 or greater
14.1% saw reduction of -6 or greater

Pre, 69.6% scored malaise at 5+,
vs 16.9% post;
mean reduction: 2.94
(N=94, P<.0001)


Outcomes proved strong and positive across the three areas measured: pain, anxiety and malaise. The program has since expanded. Following initial success in one wing of the hospital, Mercier, who directs for the Shore Health Center for Integrative Medicine, helped expand the services into a second wing and into the hospital's inpatient rehab program.

Resources Available: Shore's Mercier has agreed to make two excellent resources available to anyone who is interested. One is the 6-page proposal he used to gain approval through the diverse medical committees. The second is an excellent, 6-page manual for the participating Reiki practitioners. Please contact Mercier at . Thanks to both Mercier and Shore for making these resources available.

Molly Punzo, MD - early work helped Shore case statement
Comment:  As part of any hospital's efforts to create more patient-centered care, Reiki programs are excellent additions. I took a particular interest in seeing the work of Molly Punzo, MD, at Connecticut's Hartford Hospital, referenced by Mercier and his group. I had an opportunity to interview Punzo when she originally engaged her work there, in 2000, as Hartford's first director of integrative medicine. Notably, the outcomes referenced in Mercier's proposal are from an internal Hartford pdf file and not from a publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The practical moral here is that important healthcare decisions may be made based on honorably gathered data, even if self-published. Here's hoping the outcomes from Shore Health in this IBN&R article will assist some one of you in bringing Reiki to those you serve!

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