The effect of therapeutic back massage in hypertensive persons: a preliminary study

Biol Res Nurs. 2005 Oct;7(2):98-105. doi: 10.1177/1099800405280827.


Hypertension, one of the most pervasive disease processes in the United States, can lead to target organ damage. Although there is no one cause of primary hypertension, the theory of an unchecked long-term stress response continues to be a valid argument. Conversely, eliciting the relaxation response may alter the course of the unchecked stress response. Massage therapists have suggested that their therapy elicits the relaxation response and therefore can decrease blood pressure (BP) and hypertension. This preliminary study tested the effects of a regularly applied back massage on the BP of patients with clinically diagnosed hypertension. In this experimental, pretest-posttest study, a 10-min back massage was given to the experimental group (n = 8), three times a week for 10 sessions. The control group (n = 6) relaxed in the same environment for 10 min, three times a week for 10 sessions. Analysis of variance determined systolic BP changed significantly, F(1, 12) = 17.90, p = .001, between groups over time as did the diastolic BP, F(1, 12) = 8.34, p = .014. Effect size was 2.25 for systolic pressure and 1.56 for diastolic pressure (alpha of .05 and power at .80). This preliminary study suggests that regular massage may lower BP in hypertensive persons.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / nursing
  • Hypertension / physiopathology
  • Hypertension / therapy*
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pilot Projects
  • Relaxation Therapy*
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*