Benefits Hospitalized Cancer Patients
therapy decreased pain, symptom distress and anxiety in hospitalized cancer
patients, according to a recent study.
patients undergoing chemotherapy or radiation treatment for cancer participated
in the study, “Outcomes of Therapeutic Massage for Hospitalized Cancer
Patients,” during a 16-month period. Ninety-five percent of the participants
were men. Subjects had the following cancer diagnoses: lymph, lung,
gastrointestinal, genitourinary, head and neck, leukemia, breast and skin.
the first eight months of the study, 20 patients on the oncology unit received
massage therapy. One nurse provided the massage, which consisted of 15-30
minutes of light Swedish techniques, varying slightly according to each
patient’s medical needs. Subjects received the massage, in their hospital bed,
three times during a one-week hospital stay.
the last eight months of the study, 21 patients received 20 minutes of nurse
interaction, a control condition to account for personal attention received by
subjects in the massage group.
outcome variables were measured: pain (intensity and distress), subjective sleep
quality, symptom distress and anxiety. Pain was measured with a numerical rating
scale; subjective sleep quality was measured with the Verran and Snyder-Halpern
Sleep Scale; symptom distress, such as nausea, mood and appetite, was measured
with the Symptom Distress Scale; and anxiety was evaluated with the State-Trait
completed demographic questionnaires and the four outcome questionnaires after
their first night in the hospital and on the seventh day of their stay.
mean scores for pain and symptom distress decreased significantly for
participants in the massage-therapy group. Their anxiety decreased, as well,
although not significantly, and their subjective sleep quality remained the
subjects in the nurse-interaction group, pain, symptom distress and subjective
sleep quality all worsened, although their anxiety was slightly decreased.
consistent findings from this study and other published reports indicate that
therapeutic massage may be an integral and important part of nursing care in
hospital and hospice settings for cancer patients,” state the study’s
authors. “Content and practice of therapeutic massage should be strengthened
in the nursing curricula and integrated throughout clinical practice.”
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