Massage, Humor Do Not Help Stem Cell Transplant Patients

Interventions aimed at pediatric patients, their parents not linked to benefits for children
By Eric Metcalf
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, July 12 (HealthDay News) -- Complementary interventions, including massage, humor therapy, and relaxation/imagery, for children undergoing stem cell transplants and their parents aren't associated with significant benefits for the children, according to a study published online July 12 in Cancer.

Sean Phipps, Ph.D., of the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn., and colleagues analyzed data from 178 pediatric patients, aged 6 to 18 years, scheduled to undergo stem cell transplantation. Children were randomized to either standard care; a child-targeted intervention, including massage and humor therapy; or the child-targeted approach along with a parent intervention which included massage and relaxation/imagery. The primary outcomes were patient- and parent-reported somatic distress and mood disturbance from admission through week six on the Behavioral, Affective, and Somatic Experiences Scales.

The researchers found that the groups didn't show significant differences on the primary outcomes; nor did they demonstrate significant differences on secondary outcomes, such as length of hospitalization or use of narcotic analgesics.

"Complementary therapies such as massage are becoming more widely available and offered as supportive care in many major cancer centers. Should oncologists and transplant physicians be recommending these approaches?" the authors write. "The current trial does not provide support for the benefits of massage and humor therapy in reducing distress in the pediatric stem cell transplant setting, and suggests some caution in the widespread application of these therapies."

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