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Heart Lung. 1990 Sep;19(5 Pt 1):474-80.

Effects of differential touch on nervous system arousal of patients recovering from cardiac disease.

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School of Nursing, University of California, San Francisco 94143-0608.


Previous research suggests that the neural properties of certain types of touch as well as their perceived significance to the disease state may be related to heightened activation of the nervous system. In this study the effects of different types of touch on nervous system arousal were examined in 59 adult patients who were receiving treatment for coronary artery disease. They were exposed to a standardized protocol that systematically varied the neural properties and procedural nature of the touch received. Measures of cardiovascular reactivity (heart rate and rhythm data as well as blood pressure measurements) and state anxiety were used as indexes of arousal. The results indicated that all types of touch evoked heart rate deceleration in contrast to both baseline and verbal conditions. However, there were no differential effects related to either the neural properties or procedural nature of touch. Diastolic blood pressure and state anxiety were also lower as a result of the touch. No changes were observed for systolic blood pressure or heart rhythm. In general, findings suggested that touch served to reduce arousal rather than to produce negative psychophysiologic consequences for recovery.

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