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J Soc Integr Oncol. 2007 Fall;5(4):133-8.

Impact of massage therapy on anxiety levels in patients undergoing radiation therapy: randomized controlled trial.

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Department of Radiation Oncology, CHUM Notre-Dame Hospital, Montreal, QC.


Anxiety is a major issue in the cancer patient population. This randomized phase III trial evaluated the effects of massage therapy on anxiety levels in patients undergoing radiation therapy. Patients undergoing radiation therapy were randomly assigned to either 10 massage sessions or control sessions. Anxiety levels were evaluated throughout the course of treatment using both the visual analogue scale (VAS) and the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). The immediate effect of massage therapy on anxiety scores was measured via pre- and postmassage VAS scores. The intermediate-term effect of massage was assessed through the VAS scores over the 10 sessions and STAI scores at the last session. The trial's primary outcome was the difference in intermediate-term anxiety scores, whereas the secondary outcome was the difference in immediate anxiety scores. Between January 2006 and June 2006, 100 patients were randomized. After their massage, the patients' immediate postmassage anxiety score according to the VAS was reduced by an average of 45% compared with their premassage score (p < .001). No impact of massage therapy on intermediate-term anxiety scores was observed. Both groups showed a similar decline in VAS anxiety scores from the first to the last session, that is, 15% and 19% in the massage therapy and control groups, respectively (p = .73). Furthermore, no difference was observed between the groups' respective state-anxiety scores after the 10 sessions. Massage therapy is associated with a significant, immediate decrease in anxiety scores. However, massage therapy appears to have no major impact on intermediate-term anxiety in patients undergoing radiation therapy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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