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Evid Based Complement Alternat Med. 2012;2012:456897. doi: 10.1155/2012/456897. Epub 2012 Jul 24.

Reflexology versus Swedish Massage to Reduce Physiologic Stress and Pain and Improve Mood in Nursing Home Residents with Cancer: A Pilot Trial.

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Department of Acute and Chronic Care, School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University, 525 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.

Abstract

Objective. The purpose of this pilot study was to investigate and compare the effects of reflexology and Swedish massage therapy on physiologic stress, pain, and mood in older cancer survivors residing in nursing homes. Methods. An experimental, repeated-measures, crossover design study of 18 nursing home residents aged 75 or over and diagnosed with solid tumor in the past 5 years and following completion of cancer treatments. The intervention tested was 20 minutes of Swedish Massage Therapy to the lower extremities, versus 20 minute Reflexology, using highly specified protocols. Pre- and post-intervention levels of salivary cortisol, observed affect, and pain were compared in the Swedish Massage Therapy and Reflexology conditions. Results. Both Reflexology and Swedish Massage resulted in significant declines in salivary cortisol and pain and improvements in mood. Conclusions. Preliminary data suggest that studies of Swedish Massage Therapy and Reflexology are feasible in this population of cancer survivors typically excluded from trials. Both interventions were well tolerated and produced measurable improvements in outcomes. Further research is needed to explore the mechanisms underlying the potential benefits of these CAM modalities in this patient population.

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