Context: Admission to the hospital for a diagnostic cardiac catheterization can be perceived as a threat to one's health status. Autonomic nervous system arousal, particularly the sympathetic division, can elicit negative physiological and psychological human responses as a reaction to this threat.
Objective: The purpose of this study was to measure the effects of a 20-minute back massage on the physiological and psychological human responses of patients admitted for a diagnostic cardiac catheterization.
Design: A randomized clinical trial design was used. Data were compared in a repeated measures design before massage (T1), immediately following the back massage or standard care (T2), and 10 minutes later (T3).
Setting: A large urban academic medical center.
Participants: Forty-six subjects admitted from home for a diagnostic cardiac catheterization.
Main outcome measures: Heart rate, heart rate variability, blood pressure, respiration, peripheral skin temperature, pain perception, and psychological state.
Intervention: A 20-minute back massage.
Results: There was a significant difference between subject effect for group, with a reduction in systolic blood pressure in the treatment group (F = 8.6, P < .05). In addition, main effects were noted for time for diastolic blood pressure (F = 5.44; P < .006), respiration (F = 10.6; P < .005), total Profile of Mood States score (F = 5.9; P < .001) and pain perception (F = 4.09; P < .04) in both groups.
Conclusions: A 20-minute back massage appeared to reduce systolic blood pressure in patients awaiting a diagnostic cardiac catheterization, while preparatory time in the cardiac catheterization laboratory appeared to reduce diastolic blood pressure, respiration, perceived psychological distress, and pain.