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Efficacy of Massage at the End of Life

Phase 2
18 Years
Not Enrolling
Neoplasms, Pain

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Trial Information

Efficacy of Massage at the End of Life

Relieving physical and emotional symptoms is a key component of end-of-life care. Despite
care, terminally ill patients are still significantly burdened by unrelieved symptoms.
Therapies that have potential to alleviate these symptoms deserve thorough investigation.

This study will last 3 weeks. Participants in this study will be randomly assigned to
receive six sessions of either moving or nonmoving touch therapy, in addition to usual
hospice care, for 2 weeks. Moving touch therapy consists of massage therapy in which a
trained therapist continually touches a person's body. The nonmoving touch therapy will be
conducted by volunteers who have no previous experience in massage. Participants in this
group will have a volunteer rub specific body parts for 3-minute intervals. Because current
evidence suggests that thoughts of healing may influence the effectiveness of touch therapy,
volunteers in the nonmoving therapy group will distract their minds to avoid thinking of
healing processes. In both groups, the person administering the touch therapy will note all
interruptions during a session, including talk, music, and television. Interviews about
medication use, pain, and quality of life will be used to assess participants; these
interviews will be conducted at study start, immediately before and after each therapy
session, and at Weeks 1, 2, and 3.

Inclusion Criteria:

- Advanced cancer, with at least moderate pain 1 week prior to study entry

- Life expectancy of at least 3 weeks

- Able to speak English

Exclusion Criteria:

- Massage therapy within 1 month prior to study entry

- Current use of anticoagulants

- Platelet count less than 10,000

- Unstable spine that would interfere with touch therapy

Type of Study:


Study Design:

Allocation: Randomized, Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study, Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment, Masking: Single Blind, Primary Purpose: Treatment

Outcome Measure:

Decreased pain

Principal Investigator

Jean S. Kutner, MD

Investigator Role:

Principal Investigator

Investigator Affiliation:

University of Colorado, Denver


United States: Federal Government

Study ID:

R01 AT001006 01-A2



Start Date:

November 2003

Completion Date:

March 2007

Related Keywords:

  • Neoplasms
  • Pain
  • Massage
  • Palliative Care
  • Hospices
  • Cancer
  • Neoplasms



University of Colorado Cancer Center Denver, Colorado  80262
San Diego Hospice San Diego, California  92103
Pike's Peak Hospice and Palliative Care Colorado Springs, Colorado  80903
Pathways at Hospice of Metro Denver Denver, Colorado  80246
Hospice of St. John Lakewood, Colorado  80215
Hope Hospice and Palliative Care Fort Myers, Florida  33908
LifePath Hospice and Palliative Care, Inc. Tampa, Florida  33609
Hospice Care in the Berkshires, Inc. Pittsfield, Massachusetts  01201
Hospice at Charlotte Charlotte, North Carolina  28204