Benefits of Massage Therapy for Hospitalized Patients: A Descriptive and Qualitative Evaluation

Altern Ther Health Med. 1999 Jul;5(4):64-71.


Context: Some acute and long-term care facilities are instituting massage therapy programs to support their patients' health, healing, and quality of life. Evaluation of the impact of these programs from the perspective of patients, providers, and therapists is important for administrative decision making and the design of future outcomes research.

Objective: To uncover and elucidate a range of patient outcomes of a therapeutic massage program within an acute care setting.

Design: Descriptive and qualitative evaluation. Surveys and narrative reports were completed by 70 patients, 14 healthcare providers, and 4 massage therapists.

Setting: A large university hospital.

Patients: 113 hospitalized patients received 1 to 4 massages during the course of their hospital stay.

Intervention: Massage therapy.

Main outcome measures: Narrative data were coded into 8 categories (pain, sleep, tension/anxiety, body awareness, physical functioning, psychological support, enhancing healing, and value). Selected patient responses were included to elaborate the meanings of these categories.

Results: The most frequently identified outcomes were increased relaxation (98%), a sense of well-being (93%), and positive mood change (88%). More than two thirds of patients attributed enhanced mobility, greater energy, increased participation in treatment, and faster recovery to massage therapy. Thirty-five percent stated that benefits lasted more than 1 day.

Conclusions: The study supported the value of this hospital-based massage therapy program and uncovered a range of benefits of massage therapy for hospitalized patients that should be studied further.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Colorado
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Hospitalization*
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • Massage*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome