The integration of complementary modalities into mainstream healthcare is gaining increasing emphasis. It is important, therefore, to document the effects of these interventions on patient outcomes.
To investigate the effects of Therapeutic Touch and massage therapy on the outcomes of engraftment time, complications, and perceived benefits of therapy during bone marrow transplant.
Randomized clinical trial. Subjects were adult patients on the bone marrow transplant unit of a large urban tertiary care center.
Subjects were randomly assigned to 1 of 3 treatment groups: Therapeutic Touch (TT), massage therapy (MT), and a control group called the friendly visit (FV). Subjects (N = 88) were stratified by type of transplant (allogeneic or autologous). Twenty-seven subjects received MT; 31 received TT; and 30 received FV. Nurses with expertise in the 2 touch therapies administered them. The interventions of MT, TT, and FV were administered according to standarized protocols every third day beginning the day chemotherapy began until discharge from the program.
Time for engraftment, complications, and patient perceptions of benefits of therapy were the main outcome measures. Analysis of variance and analysis of covariance were used to determine significant differences among the 3 groups with respect to time of engraftment.
A significantly lower score for central nervous system or neurological complications was noted for subjects who received MT comppared with the control group; however, no differences were found among the 3 groups with respect to the other 10 complication categories or in the total mean score for complications. Patients’ perception of the benefits of therapy (total score) was significantly higher for those who received MT compared with the FV control group. The mean scores on the comfort subscale were significantly higher for patients receiving both MT and TT compared with the FV control group.
Massage therapy may be effective in altering the psychological and neurological complications associated with chemotherapy during bone marrow transplant. Both massage and Therapeutic Touch provide comfort to patients undergoing this challenging process.