Effect of a Brief Seated Massage on Nursing Student Attitudes to Touch for Comfort Care

Wednesday, 1 August 2012: 1:30 PM

Paul C. Turkeltaub, MD, CMT1
Edilma L. Yearwood, PhD, PMHCNS, BC, FAAN1
Erika Friedmann, PhD2
(1)School of Nursing and Health Studies, Georgetown University, Washington, DC
(2)School of Nursing, University of Maryland, Baltimore, MD

Learning Objective 1: The learner will be able to recognize the differential mutidimensional effects of a brief seated massage using moderate versus barely perceptible touch intensities.

Learning Objective 2: The learner will be able to recognize the effect of a brief seated massage on attitudes of nursing students to touch for self/patient comfort care.

Purpose: While nursing curriculums have deleted touch modalities/masssage from nursing education/practice, randomized controlled trials indicate that these modalities are safe and effective for both nurse self care and patient care for stress reduction, relaxation, pain relief, fatigue, and improved quality of life measures. The purpose of this study is to compare the effects of two different intensities of touch [high (H) vs low (L)] adminstered during two separate brief seated massages on the attitudes of nursing students to touch for their own self care and for utilization by them in patient care.

Methods: Volunteer nursing students (stratified by undergraduate/second degree) gave IRB approved informed consent to undergo a 15 minute brief seated massage by a certified massage therapist (PCT) receiving L or H touch in a  2 block randomized order within-subject design.  Participants completed health questionnaires/visual analog scales pertaining to physical/affectve/and attitudinal status before and after each massage.  Linear mixed models nested within subject were used to test hypotheses controlling for carryover effects in this two treatment, two sequence, two period crossover design.

Results: 29 subjects (93% female, 83% single) completed the study. Prior to massage, the optimal intensity of pressure anticipated for self comfort was 6.6 where 0 is no pressure and 10, the most intense pressure imaginable. The average pressure intensity reported for H = 6.7 vs L=0.5, p<.001. The overall percent difference (feeling better or worse) in how the subject felt following massage: L=39.5% vs H=62.7% better, p<.001. Significantly more improvement was reported for energy, mood, pain, and self efficacy after H than L, p<.01. Subjects were more likely to both receive and provide touch for self and patient care after experiencing H than L, p<.01.

Conclusion:  Nurse educators need to reconsider the place of touch for self and patient comfort care in the nursing curriculum, if nurses are to provide optimal care within their scope of practice.