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The Use of Healing Touch in Integrative Oncology

Laura K. Hart
Mildred I. Freel
Pam J. Haylock
Susan K. Lutgendorf
CJON 2011, 15(5), 519-525 DOI: 10.1188/11.CJON.519-525

The use of complementary therapies by patients with cancer has become increasingly prevalent; as a result, oncology nurses find themselves needing to understand those therapies and the evidence-based support for their use. This article describes the integrative use of the biofield therapy healing touch in conjunction with the chemoradiation received by patients with cervical cancer (stages IB1 to IVA) as reported in a 2010 research study. Findings indicated effects on the immune response and depression in healing touch recipients compared to patients receiving relaxation or standard care. Specifically, healing touch recipients demonstrated a minimal decrease in natural killer cell cytotoxicity over the course of treatment, whereas the cytotoxicity of patients receiving relaxation therapy and standard care declined sharply during radiation. Healing touch recipients also showed decreases in depressed mood compared to relaxation therapy and standard care recipients. The findings suggest that appropriate integration of complementary modalities into oncology care can enhance the impact of conventional care by putting patients in the best condition to use their innate healing resources.

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