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CAM for children undergoing stem cell transplants

Researchers in the US and Canada evaluated massage, humor therapy, and relaxation/imagery for reducing distress associated with pediatric stem cell transplantation.

First, the details.

  • 178 pediatric patients scheduled to undergo stem cell transplantation were randomly assigned to a child-targeted treatment group starting at hospital admission until 3 weeks after stem cell transplantation.
    • Massage + humor therapy
    • The identical child intervention + a parent intervention involving massage and relaxation/imagery
    • Standard care
  • The researchers measured patient and parent reports of somatic distress and mood disturbance from admission through Week 6 after stem cell transplantation using the Behavioral, Affective, and Somatic Experiences Scales (BASES).
    • BASES measures health-related quality of life in pediatric patients undergoing aggressive treatments.
  • Length of hospitalization, time to engraftment (successful implantation and function of stem cells in the patient’s bone marrow), and use of narcotic analgesic and antiemetic medications were also recorded.

And, the results.

  • No significant differences between treatments were found in health-related quality of life.
  • There were no significant differences between treatments in duration of hospitalization, time to engraftment, and use of narcotic analgesic and antiemetic medications.

The bottom line?

The authors concluded, “Results… failed to document significant benefits of complementary interventions in the pediatric stem cell transplantation setting.”

The researchers hoped their complementary therapy would help “take the edge off” what is a difficult treatment for children to undergo. Unfortunately, in this case it didn’t.

7/17/10 19:49 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.