The effects of back massage before diagnostic cardiac catheterization

Altern Ther Health Med. Jan-Feb 2003;9(1):50-7.


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.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / physiopathology
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Back*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Temperature
  • Cardiac Catheterization / adverse effects
  • Cardiac Catheterization / psychology*
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Massage* / methods
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Respiration
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome