A Randomised Controlled Trial of the Effects of Healing Touch on the Health of Community-Dwelling Women

Tuesday, 31 July 2012: 11:35 AM

Kristin Wicking, MSN
School of Nursing Midwifery and Nutrition, James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

Learning Objective 1: The Learner will be able to describe and explain the methodological advantage for the use of randomization in to treatment arms in an RCT.

Learning Objective 2: The Learner will be able to describe at least one reason why nursing interventions should be subjected to the requirements of Evidence Based practice.

Purpose: To explore the effect of a series of  seven weekly sessions of Healing Touch on the physical, emotional, social, spiritual and cognitive health status of older women who live alone in the community.

Both government and the health care industry are keenly aware of the burgeoning older adult population in Australia and globally, who are at risk for functional decline and its resultant decrease in quality of life and potential requirement for placement in residential aged care.  Older women who live alone are at particular risk for placement in aged care facilities due to functional decline and low social support, with many also experiencing touch deprivation.  A series of weekly sessions of the complementary therapy of Healing Touch provided in their own homes is theorised to assist them in managing and optimising their current health status, as well as providing them with a source of healthy touch and social connection.

Methods: Prospective, longitudinal time series randomised controlled trial with data collection Pre-intervention, Post-intervention and at Follow-up 6 months post-intervention by a Research Assistant unaware of group allocation (single blinded RCT).

Results: Data collection and entry concluded mid-Nov 2011, with descriptive statistical analysis indicating adequate randomisation into treatment and placebo groups with similar baseline demographic characteristics.  Participants' mean age was 75.7 years, with 96.6% reporting an income of less than AUS $30,000 per year and 84.9% having an educational level of Year 12 or less.

Conclusion: Finding ways to support older adults to maintain their functional independence and achieve the goal of healthy ageing in their own home setting is a research priority.  Healing Touch is a non-invasive, low cost, low risk adjunctive therapy which, if able to support healthy ageing, can be used as a supportive intervention for community-dwelling older adults before functional decline results in residential care placement.