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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2008 Sep;5(3):345-54. doi: 10.1093/ecam/nem032.

Dominican Children with HIV not Receiving Antiretrovirals: Massage Therapy Influences their Behavior and Development.

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Touch Research Institutes, Department of Pediatrics, Division of Disease Prevention, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, University of Miami, School of Medicine, USA, CENISMI/Robert Reid Cabral Children Hospital, Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and Miami-Dade County Health Department/Florida Department of Health, USA.


Forty-eight children (M age = 4.8 years) infected with HIV/AIDS and living in the Dominican Republic were randomly assigned to a massage therapy or a play session control group. The children in the massage therapy group received two weekly 20-min massages for 12 weeks; the children in the control group participated in a play session (coloring, playing with blocks) for the same duration and length as the massage therapy group. Overall, the children in the massage therapy group improved in self-help abilities and communication, suggesting that massage therapy may enhance daily functioning for children with HIV/AIDS. Moreover, the HIV infected children who were six or older also showed a decrease in internalizing behaviors; specifically depressive/anxious behaviors and negative thoughts were reduced. Additionally, baseline assessments revealed IQ equivalence below normal functioning for 70% of the HIV infected children and very high incidences of mood problems (depression, withdrawn) for 40% of the children and anxiety problems for 20% of the children, suggesting the need for better monitoring and alternative interventions in countries with limited resources to improve cognition and the mental health status of children infected with HIV/AIDS.


HIV; behavior, development; children; massage

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