Labyrinth Research Bibliography

Bibliography of Studies Related to Labyrinth Research (.pdf 517K)

This downloadable Bibliography has all entries sorted by author. The entries in the bibliography have been categorized below by topic and also by type (doctoral dissertation, journal article etc.).

Exploring the value of the labyrinth for hospitalized psychiatric patients: A pilot study.

Kollas, B. B., Miller-Clark, J., Deputy, M., Desart, J., & Roberts, N.

The labyrinth is an ancient sacred design equipped with a simple pathway leading to and from a center.   Labyrinths have been used throughout history for varying purposes, including decoration, play and prayer.  They provide the sacred space where the inner and outer worlds can connect, providing a glimpse of other realms and other ways of knowing.  The labyrinth is not a maze – a maze is designed for you to lose your way whereas a labyrinth is designed for you to find your way.  Thus, many sojourners have suggested the labyrinth’s potential as a healing tool.  The transforming power in walking this simple path has been seen in the recorded comments of its users.  However, to date, no one had measured what had been observed for many years.

Thus, a small pilot study was begun at Orlando Regional South Seminole Hospital using a replica of the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral, Chartres, France.  This study involved patients found in the psychiatric observational unit over a two-week period.  Participants were provided with no explanation of the intervention to detach assumptions or presuppositions from the study.  Participants were divided into a study and control group based on their desire to participate and/or physician clearance.  Physiological data were accumulated, consisting of heart rate and blood pressure 4 times per day including immediately before (11:00 a.m.) and after the labyrinth experience (12:00 noon).  In addition, a Hope Index was administered 3 times per day including immediately before and after as well as 4 hours post intervention (4:00 p.m.).  This instrument was developed by the authors to assess the patients’ feelings of stress, hope, loneliness, control, and despair using a 5 point Likert scale.

During this pilot study (N=73), patients in both the control (N=33) and study (N=40) groups were found to exhibit similar blood pressure data.  However those patients who participated in walking the labyrinth were found to exhibit a lower pulse rate at the 12:00 noon recording (11:00 a.m. = 84.1; 12:00 noon = 80.3), than those who did not participate in the study (11:00 a.m. = 83.6; 12:00 noon = 84.2).  In addition, upon analysis of Hope Index scores (HI), the labyrinth affected patient’s overall perception of their “hope” as demonstrated by either an increase in their HI (42.5%) or a decrease in HI (35%) in comparison to control scores that seemed unaffected during these time points (6.06% increase, 15.15% decrease).  Interestingly, 4 hours post intervention, both the control and study groups demonstrated a marked decrease in their Hope Index scores.

This pilot study suggests by its physiological results of lowered pulse rate that the labyrinth may serve as an effective tool in achieving the relaxation response.  In addition, it would appear that this spiritual intervention may strongly impact a patient’s sense of hope, stress, loneliness, despair and control.  Thus, this study demonstrates the need to explore further the value of the labyrinth as a healing tool and suggests that the labyrinth may be effective in providing psychiatric patients an opportunity to discover themselves and their inner feelings through its use.

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