Therapeutic Touch, Quiet Time, and Dialogue: Perceptions of Women With Breast Cancer

Anne E. Kelly

Patricia Sullivan

Jacqueline Fawcett

Nelda Samarel

ONF 2004, 31(3), 625-631. DOI: 10.1188/04.ONF.625-631

Purpose/Objectives: To compare the perceptions of women with breast cancer to an experimental therapeutic touch (TT) plus dialogue nursing intervention with perceptions of a control quiet time plus dialogue nursing intervention.

Design: Qualitative study based on the Science of Unitary Human Beings.

Setting: Data collected as part of a larger experimental study of the effects of TT on pre- and postoperative anxiety and mood and postoperative pain in women with breast cancer.

Sample: 18 women with early-stage breast cancer.

Methods: Telephone interviews at the completion of an experimental or control nursing intervention administered in the women's homes before and after breast cancer surgery.

Main Research Variables: Women's perceptions of participation in a study of the effects of dialogue and TT or quiet time.

Findings: Content analysis of transcribed telephone interviews revealed few differences in participants' perceptions of experimental and control interventions. Only participants who received the experimental intervention reported body sensations, and only participants in the control group inquired about the study and its purpose. Regardless of experimental or control intervention participation, women expressed feelings of calmness, relaxation, security, and comfort and a sense of awareness. The few women who commented about the nurse who administered the experimental or control intervention indicated that the nurse was empathetic, concerned, supportive, or helpful.

Conclusions: The women regarded either nursing intervention as a positive experience. Some also expressed positive regard for the research nurse.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses who are not trained in the administration of TT may use quiet time and dialogue to enhance feelings of calmness and relaxation in patients with breast cancer.

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