Benefits of massage given by a caregiver

In this National Cancer Institute sponsored study presented during the 7th annual conference of the American Psychosocial Oncology Society, caregivers achieved some of the same results as professional practitioners.

First, the details.

  • 97 care partners followed instructions on a DVD to provide massage to patients at home.
  • The multi-ethnic sample represented 21 types of cancer (nearly half with breast cancer, and more than half with stage III or IV cancer.
  • The effects of massage by a care partner (spouse or family member) over 4 weeks were recorded.

And, the results.

  • Massage sessions averaged about 4 per week.
  • The duration of massage was important for stage IV patients.
    • 4 weeks after the end of the study, 78% of those who averaged over 14 minutes per massage had reduced stress scores
    • Only 15% of those receiving briefer massage did — a significant difference.
  • The immediate effects of massage by care partners included a significant reduction in the following parameters.
    • Stress/anxiety
    • Fatigue
    • Depression
    • Nausea
  • These reductions are similar to what might be expected from a professional massage therapist.

The bottom line?

According to the authors, “14 minutes appears to be a ‘tipping point’ where the effects of massages by family members accumulate and reduce stress in patients over time.”

Medical News Today, the source of the article, tells us, “The DVD program is available to the public as “Touch, Caring and Cancer: Simple Instruction for Family and Friends” in English, Spanish and Chinese versions. Information and video trailers are available here.”

3/3/10 20:36 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.