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J Palliat Care. 2018 Nov 22:825859718810727. doi: 10.1177/0825859718810727. [Epub ahead of print]

Impact of a Massage Therapy Intervention for Pediatric Palliative Care Patients and Their Family Caregivers.

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1 Nebraska Medical Center, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA.
2 Division of Pediatric Palliative Care, Children's Hospital and Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA.



All inpatient children receiving pediatric palliative care consults at a free-standing children's hospital.


To explore the impact of massage therapy on pediatric palliative care patients' symptom burden and medication use pattern, to describe the impact of massage therapy on family caregiver distress, and to report on bedside nursing staff perception of massage therapy for children and their families.


A 1-time point, single-center exploratory study offering 10-minute bedside massage to children receiving palliative care and 10-minute massage to their family caregivers.


A total of 135 massages were provided to children and their caregivers. Difference in child Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability scale (FLACC) score was detectable ( P < .0001) with the median (interquartile range [IQR]) before FLACC score being 2 (1-3) and after FLACC score being 0 (0-1). Difference in "as-needed" pain medication usage in the 24 hours before and after the massage was detectable ( P = .0477). Median difference in family caregiver distress with massage was -3.0 (IQR = 2.0, P < .0001). Bedside nurses (100%) reported massage to be a meaningful way to care for their families and patients.


Massage therapy is a potentially meaningful intervention for pediatric palliative care patients with noted impact on symptom burden, benefit to family caregivers, and acceptance by nursing staff.


integrative therapy; massage; massage therapy; palliative care; pediatric; pediatric palliative care


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