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Effects of therapeutic touch in reducing pain and anxiety in an elderly population
Lin Y-S, Taylor AG
Integrative Medicine 1998 Autumn;1(4):155-162
clinical trial
5/10 [Eligibility criteria: Yes; Random allocation: Yes; Concealed allocation: Yes; Baseline comparability: No; Blind subjects: No; Blind therapists: No; Blind assessors: No; Adequate follow-up: Yes; Intention-to-treat analysis: No; Between-group comparisons: Yes; Point estimates and variability: Yes. Note: Eligibility criteria item does not contribute to total score] *This score has been confirmed*

BACKGROUND: Studies have revealed the high prevalence of chronic pain among the elderly. Anxiety is frequently associated with pain. This study investigated the efficacy of therapeutic touch (TT) in reducing chronic musculoskeletal pain and anxiety in an elderly population. Effects of TT were tested on three outcome variables: pain, anxiety, salivary cortisol. METHODS: A pre-posttest, single-blind, randomized three-group design was used to compare effectiveness of TT to mimic touch (MT, a placebo), and standard care (SC). Ninety-five participants were recruited from seven facilities (retirement communities, nursing homes, adult day care and community senior centers), stratified by facility and randomized into one of three groups. Participants in TT group received a 20-min TT intervention; MT group participants received 20 min of mimic touch. Interventions were administered at the same time on 3 consecutive days at the participant's facility. SC participants received only standard care. Pain was measured by an 11-point numeric rating scale. State anxiety was measured with Form Y-1 of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Salivary cortisol was analyzed using radioimmunoassay. Analysis of variance and Kruskal-Wallis Test were used for data analysis. RESULTS: Ninety subjects completed the protocol. Pain reduction in TT group was significantly reduced (p < 0.001) when compared with control groups, effect size of 0.92. Anxiety in TT group was also significantly reduced (p < 0.01), effect size of 0.35. Salivary cortisol levels showed little change. CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrated that TT is effective in reducing self-reported pain and anxiety in an elderly population. Physiological responses to TT need further study.

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