The following is a summary of “Massage Therapy for Hospitalized Patients Receiving Palliative Care: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” published in the MAY 2023 issue of Pain Management by Groninger et al.
For a study, researchers sought to compare the effectiveness of three different dosing strategies of therapist-applied massage on quality of life (QoL) and symptoms among hospitalized adult patients receiving palliative care consultation for any indication.
A three-armed randomized trial was conducted at an urban academic hospital. Participants received one of three massage dosing strategies: Arm I: 10-min massage daily for three days; Arm II: 20-min massage daily for three days; Arm III: single 20-min massage. The primary outcome measure was the single-item McGill QoL question. Secondary outcomes included pain/symptom ratings, peacefulness ratings, and satisfaction with the intervention. Data were collected at baseline, pre-and post-treatment, and one day after the last treatment. Repeated measure analysis of variance and paired t-tests were used to analyze the data.
Aged 55.7 (±15.49) years on average, African-Americans (65.6%) and women (61.2%) made up the majority of the total 387 patients. Regarding McGill QoL, all three arms showed within-group improvement (all P< 0.05). There were no discernible between-group differences. Finally, repeated measure analyses showed that time could predict an immediate reduction in distress (P ≤ 0.003) and a reduction in pain (P ≤ 0.02) across all study arms. However, only an improvement in distress persisted at the follow-up measurement in the arms that had received three daily massages of 10 or 20 minutes.
Massage therapy benefited complex patients with advanced illnesses, regardless of dosage. Short-term improvements were predicted by session length (10 or 20 minutes), while sustained improvement at follow-up was predicted by treatment frequency (once or three consecutive days). The findings suggested that the optimal massage “dosage” may depend on the specific outcomes being targeted.