PEP Topic 
Sleep-Wake Disturbances

Haptotherapy is a type of complementary therapy that involves the use of touch to achieve mental relaxation, and interventions, such as talking and counseling, to assist the individual to get in touch with his or her feelings, etc. It is based on haptonomy, referred to as a science that combines thoughts, feelings, and words through “psycho-tactile” contact.

Effectiveness Not Established

Research Evidence Summaries

van den Berg, M., Visser, A., Schoolmeesters, A., Edelman, P., & van den Borne, B. (2006). Evaluation of haptotherapy for patients with cancer treated with chemotherapy at a day clinic. Patient Education and Counseling, 60, 336–343.

doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2005.10.012

Intervention Characteristics/Basic Study Process:

Five haptotherapy intervention sessions were given during the period of chemotherapy, according to the wishes of the patient. Outcomes were quality of life (QOL), mood, meaning in life, general functioning, physical and psychological symptoms, sleep quality, and body awareness.

Sample Characteristics:

  • The intervention group included 31 patients with cancer aged 18 years or older treated with chemotherapy for the first time between April 2000 and November 2002.
  • The control group included 26 patients with cancer who started first chemotherapy treatment between September 2002 and March 2003.


  • Day clinic of the Diakonssenhuis Zeist (intervention group)
  • Three hospitals in the Utrecht region (control group)

Phase of Care and Clinical Applications:

Patients were undergoing the active treatment phase of care.

Study Design:

This was a nonrandomized, exploratory study with a quasiexperimental design with an intervention and matched control group, which were both studied pre- and posttest.

Measurement Instruments/Methods:

  • Questionnaire that measured a broad scale of physical, emotional, and psychological aspects of well-being
  • European Organisation for Research and Treatment of Cancer (EORTC) (dimensions of QOL)
  • Questionnaires taken from the Helen Dowling Institute
  • Meaning of life
  • General functioning
  • Satisfaction with care
  • QOL (visual analog scale [VAS])
  • Symptoms (Rotterdam Symptom Check List [RSCL])
  • Profile of Mood States (POMS)


Haptotherapy treatment improved the perceived general QOL and the perceived cognitive and social functioning of the patients. No improvement was found for mood, meaning in life, general functioning, physical symptoms, sleep quality, or body awareness.


  • The study had a small sample size.
  • No long-term follow-up was performed.
  • The period between sessions varied because of patient wishes.
  • The nonrandomized design may have contributed to selection bias.
  • The amount of time between the first patient receiving the intervention and the control group being started was 2.5 years.
  • Posttests were given to patients by the haptotherapist.
  • The intervention group had a 38% drop-out rate.
  • A haptotherapist is required for the intervention.