Pilot study evaluating the effect of massage therapy on stress, anxiety and aggression in a young adult psychiatric inpatient unit

ORYGEN Research Centre, Parkville, Vic., Australia.
Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 3.41). 05/2008; 42(5):414-22. DOI: 10.1080/00048670801961131
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT The aim of the present pilot study was to examine the effectiveness of a relaxation massage therapy programme in reducing stress, anxiety and aggression on a young adult psychiatric inpatient unit.
This was a prospective, non-randomized intervention study comparing treatment as usual (TAU) with TAU plus massage therapy intervention (MT) over consecutive 7 week blocks (May-August 2006). MT consisted of a 20 min massage therapy session offered daily to patients during their period of hospitalization. The Kennedy Nurses' Observational Scale for Inpatient Evaluation (NOSIE), the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised (SCL-90-R), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and stress hormone (saliva cortisol) levels were used to measure patient outcomes at admission and discharge from the unit. The Staff Observation Aggression Scale-Revised (SOAS-R) was used to monitor the frequency and severity of aggressive incidents on the unit.
There was a significant reduction in self-reported anxiety (p < 0.001), resting heart rate (p < 0.05) and cortisol levels (p < 0.05) immediately following the initial and final massage therapy sessions. Significant improvements in hostility (p = 0.007) and depression scores (p < 0.001) on the SCL-90-R were observed in both treatment groups. There was no group x time interaction on any of the measures. Poor reliability of staff-reported incidents on the SOAS-R limited the validity of results in this domain.
Massage therapy had immediate beneficial effects on anxiety-related measures and may be a useful de-escalating tool for reducing stress and anxiety in acutely hospitalized psychiatric patients. Study limitations preclude any definite conclusions on the effect of massage therapy on aggressive incidents in an acute psychiatric setting. Randomized controlled trials are warranted.

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Available from: Stephen James Wood, Nov 26, 2014
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    • "The findings of the authors in this study identify a number of clinically compelling outcomes, but for mental health clients, the most compelling would relate to the potential of this intervention to offer a relatively immediate , and clinically significant, reduction in self-identified stress. These findings appear clinically consistent with care provided by a massage therapist (Field, Hernandez-Reif, Schanberg, & Kuhn, 2005; Garner et al., 2008; Hart, Field, Hernandez-Reif, & Nearing, 2001). That the mechanical massage chair intervention can be provided privately, with clients who may have safe touch concerns, in an extremely time efficient manner, and delivered on an ''as needed'' basis, is also significant in terms of enabling client participation. "
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