A Pilot Study of Partner Chair Massage Effects on Perinatal Mood, Anxiety, and Pain

  • Robin B. Thomas, LMT, DrPH University of Arizona
Keywords: partner chair massage, perinatal mood, perinatal anxiety, perinatal pain

Abstract

Background: Women worldwide experience perinatal mood, anxiety, and pain contributing to pregnancy and birth challenges, maternal and infant bonding, and childhood development. Perinatal women seek massage therapy for relax-ation, pain management, and emotional support, but may encounter socioeconomic barriers. Prior studies demonstrated improved perinatal health by teaching partners of pregnant women a side-lying massage.
Purpose: This study examined health effects to perinatal mood, anxiety, and pain, by teaching partners of pregnant (PG) women a chair massage.

Setting: Participant’s homes in Tucson, Ari-zona, USA.

Participants: Twelve PG women with minor mood, anxiety, and pain: 67% white, 33% His-panic, college educated, married, aged 32 years (± 3.86 SD), 67% expecting a first child, annual incomes ? $50,000 (33%), > $50,000 (67%).
Research Design: A pre/postintervention pilot study in a single group for eight weeks.

Intervention: Twice weekly partner-delivered chair massage and its relation to perinatal mood, anxiety, and pain.

Main Outcome Measures: Pre/poststudy peri-natal massage effects were measured with the Edinburgh Depression Scale (mood), the STAI-AD (anxiety), and the VAS (pain). Weekly text messag-ing tracked dose and frequency, follow-up surveys measured sustainability, and birth outcomes were acquired by texting.

Results: Study retention was 86%, protocol compliance 94%, with couples averaging 10-min-ute, twice weekly chair massage over the eight-week study period. Paired-sample t tests indicated statistically significant improvements to perinatal mood and anxiety, Cohen’s d, a large strength of effect size (p = .012, d = 0.87; p = .004, d = 1.03). A trend was observed for reduced pain, with a medium strength of effect size (p = .071; d = 0.58). Follow-up surveys indicated most couples were sustaining at least weekly massage. Birth outcomes showed healthy infants with no complications, mean birth weight of 7.26 pounds, and mean ges-tation of 39 weeks.

Conclusion: This is the first evidence of partner chair massage as safe and effective complementary home management of perinatal mood, anxiety, and pain.

Author Biography

Robin B. Thomas, LMT, DrPH, University of Arizona

Departments of Human Services and Health Promotion Sciences

Published
2019-06-01
How to Cite
Thomas, LMT, DrPH, R. B. (2019). A Pilot Study of Partner Chair Massage Effects on Perinatal Mood, Anxiety, and Pain. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork: Research, Education, & Practice, 12(2), 3-11. https://doi.org/10.3822/ijtmb.v12i2.437
Section
Research