Ahles, T.A., Tope, D.M., Pinkson, B., Walch, S., Hann, D., Whedon, M., … Silberfarb, P.M. (1999). Massage therapy for patients undergoing autologous bone marrow transplantation. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 18, 157-163.doi: 10.1016%2FS0885-3924%2899%2900061-5
Patients scheduled to undergo bone marrow transplant were randomly assigned to receive either massage therapy or standard treatment. Patients in the massage therapy group received three 20-minute sessions of shoulder, neck, head, and facial massage per week. The average length of stay was three weeks, so as many as nine sessions were reported during patients’ hospital stays. Massages were performed by a trained, healing arts specialist with more than 10 years of experience.
Participants were inpatients and were scheduled for bone marrow transplant at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in New Hampshire.
The study design was a randomized, controlled clinical trial.
Patients in the massage group experienced significantly larger reductions in nausea than the standard group at day 7. The strongest effects were seen immediately after massage when patients experienced a reduction in diastolic blood pressure, nausea, distress, and anxiety. How long the positive effects were maintained is difficult to evaluate.