A few years ago, a review of 30 studies of healing touch concluded, “no generalizable results were found.” In plain English that means there was no disease nor any group of patients with a disease where healing touch was a reliable treatment alternative.
A new study of healing touch in 12 veterans with neuropathic pain and the associated psychological distress from post spinal cord injury comes to the same conclusion.
No significant difference in pain with HT compared to progressive relaxation
Changes in pain were short-lived and did not last until the next treatment session
No reduction in distress between treatments
No change in depression before and after treatment
Despite this, the researchers conclude that in a future study, the use of multiple treatment methods might provide more pain relief, decrease participant disappointment, and prevent participants from focusing on HT as the “failed” method of pain relief.
In a welcome moment of clarity, Dr. Katherine Bowman from the University of Texas asks rhetorically, “why examine HT as a pain-relief method in a future study if other methods must be used to provide the pain relief?”
More about the challenges facing researchers of HT (aka: therapeutic touch) is available here.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.