Integrative therapies such as massage have gained support as interventions that improve the overall patient experience during hospitalization. Cardiac surgery patients undergo long procedures and commonly have postoperative back and shoulder pain, anxiety, and tension. Given the promising effects of massage therapy for alleviation of pain, tension, and anxiety, we studied the efficacy and feasibility of massage therapy delivered in the postoperative cardiovascular surgery setting. Patients were randomized to receive a massage or to have quiet relaxation time (control). In total, 113 patients completed the study (massage, n=62; control, n=51). Patients receiving massage therapy had significantly decreased pain, anxiety, and tension. Patients were highly satisfied with the intervention, and no major barriers to implementing massage therapy were identified. Massage therapy may be an important component of the healing experience for patients after cardiovascular surgery.
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