Jackson, E., Kelley, M., McNeil, P., Meyer, E., Schlegel, L., & Eaton, M. (2008). Does therapeutic touch help reduce pain and anxiety in patients with cancer? Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 12, 113–120.doi: 10.1188/08.CJON.113-120
To examine research about the effectiveness of therapeutic touch in decreasing the pain and anxiety of patients with cancer
The authors report that research relating to therapeutic touch indicates that the therapy helps to reduce pain and anxiety; however, the evidence that the research provides is very weak. Few studies showed statistically significant results, and several studies did not directly measure either variable. The rating scale used does not take sample size into account. As a result, a study rated level II included only 20 patients. Even with this rating scale, most studies analyzed were of low quality. Although the purpose of this study was to summarize the research, the authors incorporated opinion and review articles that were in support of therapeutic touch.
The evidence to support the efficacy of therapeutic touch, as a means of reducing the pain and anxiety of patients with cancer, is weak because the research about this topic is of low quality. Many investigators believe that therapeutic touch and related interventions are promising for patients with cancer and that the interventions pose little risk. Delivering these interventions requires training, however. Some authors have noted that, compared to inexperienced practitioners, experienced practitioners achieve more significant results. Therapeutic touch is something to consider as an adjunctive treatment for the pain and anxiety of patients with cancer. However, therapeutic touch must be administered by a trained and experienced practitioner. Well-designed and appropriately powered research of the efficacy of therapeutic touch is warranted.