complementary medicine, healing, holistic care, integrative nursing, massage, massage therapy, relaxation response, touch



  1. Westman, Kathryn F. MS, CNS
  2. Blaisdell, Cathy BSW, NCTM


Since ancient times, massage therapy has been used to promote healing by people of all backgrounds and cultures. Massage therapy was once taught as a core nursing skill, but it gradually lost ground in the United States during the second half of the 20th century with the increased use of technology and documentation in nursing. In recent years, however, there has been a resurgence in the use of massage therapy. Research has provided insight into the mechanisms by which massage supports the healing process, and this has sparked support for including massage therapy in routine hospital care. In this article, the authors touch on the history of massage in nursing care and discuss its emotional and physiologic benefits for both patient and nurse. They describe specific massage techniques and discuss precautions to consider before using massage with certain patients.