Reporting Evidence Guidelines
Our first webinar of the new year featured two authors of the landmark paper that provides guidance for reporting clinical research on biofield therapies. Authors Richard Hammerschlag, PhD (Co-Director of Research, CHI) and Ann Baldwin, PhD (Director, Mind-Body Science and author, Reiki in Clinical Practice; and The Vagus Nerve in Therapeutic Practice) discussed the guidance document and suggest how it may encourage further acceptance of biofield therapies (External Qigong, Healing Touch, Reiki and Therapeutic Touch, among others) in hospital settings and private practice.
About the Featured Authors
Richard Hammerschlag, PhD
Co-Director of Research, CHI
Richard’s initial research career in neurobiology was based at the Beckman Research Institute of the City of Hope, Duarte CA, where he served as Associate Chair, Division of Neurosciences. His second research career, in acupuncture and CAM, led him to Portland OR, where he was Dean of Research at the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine. He served as co-president of the Society for Acupuncture Research and is an Executive Editor of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. Since his ‘retirement’, he has pursued an interest in Biofield Physiology, as an Institute Scholar of The Institute for Integrative Health (Baltimore, MD) and as Director of Research for the Consciousness and Healing Initiative (San Diego, CA).
Ann Baldwin, PhD
Director, Mind-Body Science and Author
Ann Baldwin, PhD, is a Professor of Physiology and Psychology at the University of Arizona. She is also a Reiki Master, and has practiced Reiki on people and animals for the last fifteen years. She obtained her Bachelors degree in Physics from University of Bristol, UK, her Masters degree in Radiation Physics from University of London, UK and her PhD in Physiology from Imperial College, University of London. Ann’s research focuses on the physiological effects of mental and emotional stress, and she is currently exploring the efficacies of Reiki, Biofeedback and Equine Facilitated Learning in reducing the damaging effects of stress. Ann is the acclaimed author of The Vagus Nerve in Therapeutic Practice: Working with Clients to Manage Stress and Enhance Mind-Body Function and Reiki in Clinical Practice: A Science-based Guide.
About the Paper
The full paper, “Biofield Therapies: Guidelines for Reporting Clinical Trials,” by Richard Hammerschlag, Meredith Sprengel and Ann Linda Baldwin, is currently in press. The paper is scheduled for multi-journal publication (following the precedent set for similar guidance documents) in February 2024, in four integrative health journals: Complementary Therapies in Medicine, EXPLORE – The Journal of Science and Healing, Global Advances in Integrative Health and Medicine, and Journal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine.
Following established procedures for creating reporting guidelines, we have created BiFi REGs (Biofield Therapies: Reporting Evidence Guidelines), which supplements CONSORT 2010 with numerous items that reflect the intervention protocols directly relevant to biofield therapy trials. Items ask, for example, whether the biofield therapy was hands-on (physical contact), hands-off (no physical contact) or both, and whether the treatment was structured (predetermined) or individualized (customized). BiFi REGs evolved through a draft document created by a core group, two rounds of a Delphi process with an international group of subject matter experts (who rated and commented on each item) and two panels, meeting via Zoom, which included editors of complementary and integrative medicine journals. BiFi REGs comprises an intervention checklist of 15 items, each of which is clarified by an explanation and several exemplars of good reporting from peer-reviewed published reports of biofield therapy trials. When used in conjunction with all other items from CONSORT 2010, we anticipate that BiFi REGs will expedite the peer review process for reports of biofield therapy trials, facilitate attempts at trial replication and help to inform decision-making in the clinical practice of these Integrative Healthcare therapies.
Further, as a glimpse of the future, the paper’s Discussion section encourages readers and researchers to begin to consider additional variables, not yet accepted or fully understood, which may affect outcomes of biofield therapy trials. These variables, such as the often proposed ‘energy in the room’, can be submitted to a designated website linked to the CHI homepage, along with other comments and suggestions that will be considered at a time when BiFi REGs is revised.
Please submit any general or specific feedback in the box below.
If your comments refer to a specific item in the BiFi REGs checklist, please indicate the number of the item (from Table 1). All comments are appreciated and will be considered when BiFi REGs is revised. Please note that this is a request for comments on BiFi REGs items but not for CONSORT items (Table 2).