The Effect of Massage on the Cardiac Autonomic Nervous System and Markers of Inflammation in Night Shift Workers: a Pilot Randomized Crossover Trial

  • Mir Sohail Fazeli, MD, PhD British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Evidinno Outcomes Research Inc.
  • Mir-Masoud Pourrahmat, BSc British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Evidinno Outcomes Research Inc., University of British Columbia
  • Golshan Massah, MD British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, University of British Columbia
  • Kelsey Lee, BSc British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, University of British Columbia
  • Pascal M. Lavoie, MD, PhD British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, University of British Columbia
  • Mirfarhang Fazeli, MD British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, University of British Columbia
  • Alison Esser, RMT Vancouver College of Massage Therapy
  • Jean-Paul Collet, MD, PhD British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Beijing Tiantan Hospital, Capital Medical University
Keywords: autonomic nervous system, inflammation, massage, randomized controlled trial, shift work

Abstract

Background: Shift work is a necessary part of many industries; however, it can have detrimental effects on health over time.

Purpose: This study investigated the effect of a massage intervention on the cardiac autonomic activity and blood inflammatory markers of healthy medical residents working night shifts.

Setting: This trial was conducted at British Columbia Children’s and Women’s Hospital between February 2014 and June 2016.

Participants: Included participants were generally healthy medical residents and were working rotating night shifts on a regular basis.

Research Design: This was a randomized, controlled, crossover, open-label trial (NCT02247089).

Interventions: Participants received either a 30-min massage intervention or reading control after consecutive periods of night shift.

Main Outcome Measures: The primary outcome was high frequency, a proxy for the cardiac parasympathetic activity, measured via heart rate variability. Secondary outcomes included other heart rate variability measures, blood markers of inflammation, and blood pressure.

Results: Twelve participants were recruited (nine female) with median age of 28 years. There was no significant difference between the massage intervention and the reading control for the primary outcome, (median relative change between pre- and postmassage [interquartile range]: 62% [-1 to 150], pre- and postreading: 14% [-10 to 51], p = .16). Similarly, there was no difference with respect to blood inflammatory markers and blood pressure. Median high frequency significantly increased between pre- and postmassage (185 vs. 358 ms2, p = .04).

Conclusion: This pilot study found no statistically significant difference between the massage intervention and the reading control; however, we did observe a significant increase in median high frequency from before massage to after massage, indicative of increased parasympathetic activity. This study may help inform planning of larger trials evaluating massage interventions on the activity of the autonomic nervous system and managing shift work stress.

Author Biographies

Mir-Masoud Pourrahmat, BSc, British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Evidinno Outcomes Research Inc., University of British Columbia

Department of Medicine

Golshan Massah, MD, British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, University of British Columbia

Department of Medicine

Kelsey Lee, BSc, British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, University of British Columbia

Department of Pediatrics

Pascal M. Lavoie, MD, PhD, British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, University of British Columbia

Department of Pediatrics

Mirfarhang Fazeli, MD, British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, University of British Columbia

Department of Medicine

Jean-Paul Collet, MD, PhD, British Columbia Children’s Hospital Research Institute, Beijing Tiantan Hospital, Capital Medical University

Advanced Innovation Center for Human Brain Protection

Published
2020-06-11
How to Cite
Fazeli, MD, PhD, M. S., Pourrahmat, BSc, M.-M., Massah, MD, G., Lee, BSc, K., Lavoie, MD, PhD, P. M., Fazeli, MD, M., Esser, RMT, A., & Collet, MD, PhD, J.-P. (2020). The Effect of Massage on the Cardiac Autonomic Nervous System and Markers of Inflammation in Night Shift Workers: a Pilot Randomized Crossover Trial. International Journal of Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork: Research, Education, & Practice, 13(3), 6-17. https://doi.org/10.3822/ijtmb.v13i3.501
Section
Research