Lutgendorf, S.K., Mullen-Houser, E., Russell, D., Degeest, K., Jacobson, G., Hart, L., . . . Lubaroff, D.M. (2010). Preservation of immune function in cervical cancer patients during chemoradiation using a novel integrative approach. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, 24, 1231–1240.doi:10.1016/j.bbi.2010.06.014
To examine the effects of healing touch on natural killer (NK) cell activity, mood, and specific clinical and quality-of-life outcomes among women receiving chemoradiation for locally advanced cervical cancer
After consent, patients randomized to one of three treatment arms: healing touch, relaxation, and control (usual care). The healing touch and relaxation interventions were administered individually four days per week throughout chemoradiation, on nonchemotherapy days, immediately following radiation. Healing touch participants received on average 15.25 (±6.97) sessions versus 11.75 (±5.20) sessions for relaxation (p = 0.08). Psychosocial surveys were completed for a total of four assessments (including baseline) over six weeks of chemoradiation. Each healing touch or relaxation session lasted 20–30 minutes and was delivered by experienced practitioners.
Prospective, randomized clinical trial with repeated measures
Results indicate that, in patients with cervical cancer who are undergoing chemoradiation, healing touch may be effective in preventing some aspects of decreased immunity and reducing depressed mood.
Complementary interventions may be an important adjunct for patients during active treatment, in both improving depressed mood as well as maintaining immunocompetence. However, the intervention must be feasible and acceptable to patients. This very well-reported study took five years to accrue a final sample of 51 patients (fewer than one patient per month), which illustrates the complexity of performing such research.