Massage Therapy as a Supportive Care Intervention for Children With Cancer

Deborah Hughes

Elena Ladas

Diane Rooney

Kara Kelly

supportive care, children
ONF 2008, 35(3), 431-442. DOI: 10.1188/08.ONF.431-442

Purpose/Objectives: To review relevant literature about massage therapy to assess the feasibility of integrating the body-based complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) practice as a supportive care intervention for children with cancer.

Data Sources: PubMed®, online references, published government reports, and the bibliographies of retrieved articles, reviews, and books on massage and massage and cancer. More than 70 citations were reviewed.

Data Synthesis: Massage therapy may help mitigate pain, anxiety, depression, constipation, and high blood pressure and may be beneficial during periods of profound immune suppression. Massage techniques light to medium in pressure are appropriate in the pediatric oncology setting.

Conclusions: Massage is an applicable, noninvasive, therapeutic modality that can be integrated safely as an adjunct intervention for managing side effects and psychological conditions associated with anticancer treatment in children. Massage may support immune function during periods of immunosuppression.

Implications for Nursing: Pediatric oncology nurses are vital in helping patients safely integrate CAM into conventional treatment. Pediatric oncology nurses can help maximize patient outcomes by assessing, advocating, and coordinating massage therapy services as a supportive care intervention.

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