Effects of Massage in Reducing the Pain and Anxiety of the Cardiac Surgery Critically Ill-a Randomized Controlled Trial

Patients were randomly allocated to standard care plus either two 20-minute hand massages (experimental), two 20-minute hand holdings (active control), or two 20-minute rest periods (passive control/standard care). Pain intensity, pain unpleasantness, anxiety, muscle tension, and vital signs were evaluated before, after, and 30 minutes later for each intervention.

From the 83 patients recruited, 60 were randomized (20 massage, 19 hand holding, 21 standard care). After controlling for baseline scores, the massage group reported significantly lower pain intensity, pain unpleasantness, and anxiety for the first data collection set compared with both hand holding and standard care (analysis of covariance, P < 0.02), with an average decrease of two points on a 0-10 scale. No statistically significant differences were noted between hand holding and standard care for any of the symptoms. Similar results were observed for the second data collection set (N = 43). Patients had decreased muscle tension post massage. Vital signs did not differ significantly between groups.

Findings suggest that a 20-minute hand massage in addition to routine postoperative pain management can concomitantly reduce pain intensity, pain unpleasantness, and anxiety by two points on average on a 0-10 scale.