Integration of Massage Therapy in Outpatient Cancer Care

Keywords: massage, integrative oncology, nonpharmacologic, cancer treatment-related symptoms, integration algorithm

Abstract

 

Background: Massage therapy can be helpful in alleviating cancer-related symptoms and cancer treatment-related symptoms. While surveys have noted that cancer patients seek out massage as a nonpharmacologic approach during cancer treatment, little is known about the integration of massage in outpatient cancer care.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which massage is being integrated into outpatient cancer care at NCI-designated Cancer Centers.

Setting: This study used descriptive methods to analyze the integration of massage in NCI-designated Cancer Centers providing clinical services to patients (n = 62).

Design: Data were collected from 91.1% of the centers (n = 59) using content analysis and a telephone survey. A dataset was developed and coded for analysis.

Main Outcome Measure: The integration of massage was assessed by an algorithm that was developed from a set of five variables: 1) acceptance of treatment as therapeutic, 2) institution offers treatment to patients, 3) clinical practice guidelines in place, 4) use of evidence-based resources to inform treatment, and 5) shared knowledge about treatment among health care team. All centers were scored against all five variables using a six-point scale, with all variables rated equally.

Results: The integration of massage ranged from not at all (0) to very high (5) with all five levels of integration evident. Only 11 centers (17.7% of total) rated a very high level of integration; nearly one-third of the centers (n = 22) were found to have no integration of massage at all—not even provision of information about massage to patients through the center website.

Conclusions: The findings of this analysis suggest that research on massage is not being leveraged to integrate massage into outpatient cancer care.

Author Biographies

Virginia S. Cowen, PhD, LMT, Rutgers University

Department of Primary Care, School of Health Professionals

Barbara Tafuto, MLS, Rutgers University
Department of Health Informatics, School of Health Professions
Published
2018-03-28
How to Cite
Cowen, PhD, LMT, V. S., & Tafuto, MLS, B. (2018). Integration of Massage Therapy in Outpatient Cancer Care. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork: Research, Education, & Practice, 11(1). https://doi.org/10.3822/ijtmb.v11i1.393
Section
Research