Massage therapy for symptom control: outcome study at a major cancer center.

Integrative Medicine Service, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York 10021, USA.
Journal of Pain and Symptom Management (Impact Factor: 2.74). 10/2004; 28(3):244-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2003.12.016
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Massage is increasingly applied to relieve symptoms in patients with cancer. This practice is supported by evidence from small randomized trials. No study has examined massage therapy outcome in a large group of patients. At Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, patients report symptom severity pre- and post-massage therapy using 0-10 rating scales of pain, fatigue, stress/anxiety, nausea, depression and "other." Changes in symptom scores and the modifying effects of patient status (in- or outpatient) and type of massage were analyzed. Over a three-year period, 1,290 patients were treated. Symptom scores were reduced by approximately 50%, even for patients reporting high baseline scores. Outpatients improved about 10% more than inpatients. Benefits persisted, with outpatients experiencing no return toward baseline scores throughout the duration of 48-hour follow-up. These data indicate that massage therapy is associated with substantive improvement in cancer patients' symptom scores.

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    ABSTRACT: Background Few studies have investigated the effectiveness of integrative medicine (IM) therapies on pain and anxiety among oncology inpatients. Methods Retrospective data obtained from electronic medical records identified patients with an oncology International Classification of Diseases-9 code who were admitted to a large Midwestern hospital between July 1, 2009 and December 31, 2012. Outcomes were change in patient-reported pain and anxiety, rated before and after individual IM treatment sessions, using a numeric scale (0–10). Results Of 10948 hospital admissions over the study period, 1833 (17%) included IM therapy. Older patients had reduced odds of receiving any IM therapy (odds ratio [OR]: 0.97, 95% confidence interval [95% CI] = 0.96 to 0.98) and females had 63% (OR: 1.63, 95% CI = 1.38 to 1.92) higher odds of receiving any IM therapy compared with males. Moderate (OR: 1.97, 95% CI = 1.61 to 2.41), major (OR: 3.54, 95% CI = 2.88 to 4.35), and extreme (OR: 5.96, 95% CI = 4.71 to 7.56) illness severity were significantly associated with higher odds of receiving IM therapy compared with admissions of minor illness severity. After receiving IM therapy, patients averaged a 46.9% (95% CI = 45.1% to 48.6%, P <.001) reduction in pain and a 56.1% (95% CI = 54.3% to 58.0%, P <.001) reduction in anxiety. Bodywork and traditional Chinese Medicine therapies were most effective for reducing pain, while no significant differences among therapies for reducing anxiety were observed. Conclusions IM services to oncology inpatients resulted in substantial decreases in pain and anxiety. Observational studies using electronic medical records provide unique information about real-world utilization of IM. Future studies are warranted and should explore potential synergy of opioid analgesics and IM therapy for pain control.
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    Indian Journal of Palliative Care 01/2015; 21(1):105-15. DOI:10.4103/0973-1075.150202

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