The clinical effectiveness of healing touch

J Altern Complement Med. 2002 Feb;8(1):33-47. doi: 10.1089/107555302753507168.


Objectives: (1) to determine the clinical effectiveness of Healing Touch (HT) on variables assumed to be related to health enhancement; (2) to determine whether practitioner training level moderates treatment effectiveness.

Design: Mixed-method repeated measures design with quasi-experimental and naturalistic approaches, paired with nomothetic and idiographic analyses.

Setting/location: Practitioner's offices or client's home.

Subjects: Twenty-two (22) clients who had never experienced HT.

Interventions: Three treatment conditions: no treatment (NT), HT only (standard HT care), and HT+ (Standard HT care plus music plus guided imagery).

Outcome measures: Secretory immunoglobulin A (sIgA) concentrations in saliva, self-reports of stress levels, client perceptions of health enhancement, and qualitative questionnaires about individual effects.

Results: Clients of practitioners with more training experienced statistically significant positive sIgA change over the HT treatment series, while clients of practitioners with less experience did not. Clients reported a statistically significant reduction of stress level after both HT conditions. Perceived enhancement of health was reported by 13 of 22 clients (59%). Themes of relaxation, connection, and enhanced awareness were identified in the qualitative analysis of the HT experience. Pain relief was reported by 6 of 11 clients (55%) experiencing pain.

Conclusions: The data support the clinical effectiveness of HT in health enhancement, specifically for raising sIgA concentrations, lowering stress perceptions and relieving pain. The evidence indicates that positive responses were not exclusively as a result of placebo, that is, client beliefs, expectations, and behaviors regarding HT.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Placebo Effect
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Research Design
  • Saliva / immunology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Stress, Psychological / diagnosis
  • Stress, Psychological / immunology*
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Therapeutic Touch / methods*
  • Therapeutic Touch / trends


  • Immunoglobulin A, Secretory