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Evaluation of a Low-Light Intervention—Starlight Therapy—for Agitation, Anxiety, Restlessness, Sleep Disturbances, Dyspnea, and Pain at End of Life

Emerson, Kathleen LPN, CHPLN; Murphy, Mary MS, RN, CNS, AOCN, ACHPN; Quinlin, Linda DNP, RN, ACNS-BC, NP-C, ACHPN; O'Malley, Patricia PhD, RN, CNS, CCRN; Hayes, Kathleen MS, RN-BC, CHPN

Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing: June 2017 - Volume 19 - Issue 3 - p 214–220
doi: 10.1097/NJH.0000000000000337
Symptom Management Series

Negative symptoms at the end of life are distressing for both the patient and family. Effective management of both physical and psychological symptoms improves quality of life and well-being, but intervention strategies are not always effective or feasible and often are exclusively pharmacologic. Developing treatment plans to meet symptom management needs is critical. A 2-site research study was conducted in southwest Ohio assessing effectiveness of Starlight Therapy in treating the negative symptoms associated with end of life. The study of 40 patients found the Starlight Therapy effective in treating the symptoms of anxiety, agitation, dyspnea, insomnia, and pain in 90% of the patients within a 30-minute period. The therapy was ineffective in only 4 patients. Physiological symptoms were measured upon initiating Starlight Therapy, 30 minutes after therapy, and 2 hours after therapy. Results found heart rate and respiratory rate significantly different from baseline to 30 minutes and from baseline to 2 hours (P < .05). Heart rate and respiratory rate were not significantly different from 30 minutes to 2 hours (P > .05). Further research is required to explore additional types of care, subjects, and sites, which could benefit from Starlight Therapy.

Kathleen Emerson, LPN, CHPLN, is research data collection coordinator, Ohio’s Hospice, Inc, Dayton.

Mary Murphy, MS, RN, CNS, AOCN, ACHPN, is president and chief nursing and care officer, Ohio’s Hospice, Inc, Dayton.

Linda Quinlin, DNP, RN, ACNS-BC, NP-C, ACHPN, is family nurse practitioner, clinical team leader, Ohio’s Hospice, Inc, Dayton; and assistant professor, College of Nursing, The Ohio State University, Columbus.

Patricia O’Malley, PhD, RN, CNS, CCRN, is alumnus, nurse researcher, Premier Health Network, Miami Valley Hospital, Dayton, Ohio.

Kathleen Hayes, MS, RN-BC, CHPN, is Dayton VA hospice and palliative care coordinator, Veteran’s Affairs, Dayton, Ohio.

Address correspondence to Kathleen Emerson, LPN, CHPLN, Ohio’s Hospice Inc, 324 Wilmington Ave, Dayton, OH 45420 (

No funding was received for this study.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

© 2017 by The Hospice and Palliative Nurses Association.