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J Soc Integr Oncol. 2009 Winter;7(1):12-8.

Impact of healing touch on pediatric oncology outpatients: pilot study.

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Department of Pediatrics, Wake Forest University School of Medicine, Winston-Salem, NC 27157, USA.


Healing Touch (HT) is a biofield therapy used to enhance well-being. We conducted a pilot study to assess its effects in pediatric oncology patients. We enrolled patients in the continuation or consolidation phase of therapy. Patients or their parent completed simple visual analogue scales (VASs; 0-10) for relaxation, vitality, overall well-being, stress, anxiety, and depression before and after a 20-minute period of rest and a standardized HT treatment. Patients' heart rates were monitored and later analyzed for heart rate variability (HRV) characteristics. Of the nine patients, all completed VASs and six had usable HRV data. The average age was 9 years. VAS scores for stress decreased significantly more for HT treatment than for rest (HT: 4.4-1.7; rest: 2.3-2.3; p = .03). The HRV characteristic of total power was significantly lower during HT than for rest (HT 599 +/- 221; rest: 857 +/- 155; p = .048), and sympathetic activity was somewhat but not significantly lower (HT: 312 +/- 158; rest: 555 +/- 193; p = .06). HT is associated with lowered stress and changes in HRV. Further studies are needed to understand the mechanisms of these effects in larger samples and to explore the impact on additional clinically relevant measures.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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