The Experiences of Touch Therapies in Symptom Management of Rural and Regional Cancer Patients in Australia
Introduction: Cancer patients are increasingly combining touch therapies (e.g., remedial massage, lymphatic massage, and/or reflexology) with conventional treatments to deal with the impact of their cancer and treatments on their physical and mental well-being. To understand the impact of integrative oncology services on cancer patients, it is essential to explore the impact that various types of integrative oncology services have on cancer patients.
Aims: This paper presents cancer patients’ experiences with touch therapies in a community-based cancer support center and to identify opportunities for better access to these practices and service provision in Australia.
Methods: A random selection of cancer patients (n=36) receiving touch therapies at a rural/regional community cancer center completed mixed-methods mail surveys regarding the use of touch therapies, their satisfaction, and the impact on pain, fatigue, nausea and overall well-being.
Results: Findings indicated that these services helped manage both physical and emotional symptoms. Of the participants experiencing pain and fatigue, findings revealed that touch therapies assisted with pain in 90% of participants and with fatigue in 70%.
Conclusion: Given the increased and continued use of touch therapies by individuals with cancer, cancer centers should consider establishing touch therapy services or provide referrals to touch therapy services that can assist with symptom management and improve quality care. By more clearly understanding the benefits of the different types of integrative oncology interventions, patients with cancer receive more tailored and effective interventions throughout of their cancer journey.
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