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Therapeutic Massage During Chemotherapy and/or Biotherapy Infusions: Patient Perceptions of Pain, Fatigue, Nausea, Anxiety, and Satisfaction

Jeanene G. Robison
Cheryl L. Smith
CJON 2016, 20(2), E34-E40 DOI: 10.1188/16.CJON.E34-E40

Background: Patients with cancer commonly experience disease or treatment side effects, including pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety. An expanding body of literature supports the use of therapeutic massage (TM) as an adjunct to conventional therapies to manage these side effects. 

Objectives: This article describes patients’ perceptions of pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety and their overall satisfaction with TM provided concurrently with chemotherapy and/or biotherapy.

Methods: In an academic outpatient comprehensive cancer center, consenting patients were asked to identify massage site preference (hands and/or feet). The licensed massage therapist delivered TM for 20 minutes to patients concurrently receiving chemotherapy and/or biotherapy. Patients rated their pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety pre- and post-TM using a Likert-type scale. Qualitative and quantitative data related to patients’ perceived value of TM were obtained postintervention.

Findings: Participants (N = 58) reported a statistically significant reduction in each of the following variables: pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety. Results demonstrated a high level of satisfaction with the TM received as part of their care. TM could be an effective strategy for nurses to use in holistic management of patients with cancer receiving chemotherapy and/or biotherapy, and it could help to minimize side effects related to disease and treatment.

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