The effects of slow-stroke back massage on anxiety and shoulder pain in elderly stroke patients

Complement Ther Nurs Midwifery. 2004 Nov;10(4):209-16. doi: 10.1016/j.ctnm.2004.05.006.


This study explores the effect of slow-stroke back massages on anxiety and shoulder pain in hospitalized elderly patients with stroke. An experimental quantitative design was conducted, comparing the scores for self-reported pain, anxiety, blood pressure, heart rate and pain of two groups of patients before and immediately after, and three days after the intervention. The intervention consisted of ten minutes of slow-stroke back massage (SSBM) for seven consecutive evenings. One hundred and two patients participated in the entire study and were randomly assigned to a massage group or a control group. The results revealed that the massage intervention significantly reduced the patients' levels of pain perception and anxiety. In addition to the subjective measures, all physiological measures (systolic and diastolic blood pressures and heart rate) changed positively, indicating relaxation. The prolonged effect of SSBM was also evident, as reflected by the maintenance of the psycho-physiological parameters three days after the massage. The patients' perceptions of SSBM, determined from a questionnaire, revealed positive support for SSBM for elderly stroke patients. The authors suggest that SSBM is an effective nursing intervention for reducing shoulder pain and anxiety in elderly patients with stroke. From a nursing perspective, this nursing practice provides a challenge and an opportunity for nurses and family caregivers to blend alternative therapies with technology to provide more individualized and holistic patient care.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / nursing*
  • Blood Pressure
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Hong Kong
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Massage / nursing
  • Nurse's Role
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data
  • Shoulder Pain / etiology
  • Shoulder Pain / nursing*
  • Stroke / nursing*
  • Stroke Rehabilitation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors