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Individuals Facing One of 90 Elective Surgeries are Sent Guided Imagery Tapes

CALIFORNIA BLUE SHIELD continues to report positive outcomes with its use of our Health Journeys guided imagery. Through the program, begun in 2000, individuals facing one of 90 elective surgeries are sent guided imagery tapes.Outcomes include: 45% of patients experienced high anxiety before listening to the tapes, but less than 5% experienced similar anxiety following use of the tapes pre-surgery, and "the more anxious patients felt, the more frequently they listened to the recordings and the greater improvement they documented. The findings were developed from data gathered in 2000–2001 based on 900 completed patient surveys.

Blue Shield's research team also compared claims from 166 hysterectomy patients who reported using the guided imagery tapes and completed surveys against a control group of 183 hysterectomy patients who did not listen to the tapes. The result: 4.5% decrease in average total hospital charges billed for surgery among patients who used guided imagery prior to surgery, and an 8.4% decrease in the average hospital pharmacy charges.

The release notes that from the health plan's perspective, the program has proved to be "extraordinarily cost-effective. The tapes cost $18 per recording versus an average hospital claim savings for billed charges of $654 per participating member. Program director DEBORAH SCHWAB, RN, MS, states: "Our research shows that Blue Shield members define health broadly to include the mind and the body. They want tools like guided imagery that help ease the anxiety they feel during vulnerable moments such as surgery. The fact that guided imagery actually saves money is a wonderful bonus."

Blue Shield also found that acceptance and usage of the program was high: 85% of patients who used it would recommend it to a friend, and 84% would use it again when having surgery. In addition, 75% of members invited to participate in the program decided to use the materials. Blue Shield has decided to expand the guided imagery program to patients in its asthma and cardiac disease management programs. 310-577-7870 or

Posted: 01/03/2007

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