Effect of massage therapy on pain, anxiety, and tension in cardiac surgical patients: a pilot study

Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2010 May;16(2):92-5. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2009.10.006. Epub 2009 Nov 14.


Objectives: To assess the role of massage therapy in the cardiac surgery postoperative period. Specific aims included determining the difference in pain, anxiety, tension, and satisfaction scores of patients before and after massage compared with patients who received standard care.

Design: A randomized controlled trial comparing outcomes before and after intervention in and across groups.

Setting: Saint Marys Hospital, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota.

Subjects: Patients undergoing cardiovascular surgical procedures (coronary artery bypass grafting and/or valvular repair or replacement) (N=58).

Interventions: Patients in the intervention group received a 20-minute session of massage therapy intervention between postoperative days 2 and 5. Patients in the control group received standard care and a 20-minute quiet time between postoperative days 2 and 5.

Outcome measures: Linear Analogue Self-assessment scores for pain, anxiety, tension, and satisfaction.

Results: Statistically and clinically significant decreases in pain, anxiety, and tension scores were observed for patients who received a 20-minute massage compared with those who received standard care. Patient feedback was markedly positive.

Conclusions: This pilot study showed that massage can be successfully incorporated into a busy cardiac surgical practice. These results suggest that massage may be an important therapy to consider for inclusion in the management of postoperative recovery of cardiovascular surgical patients.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Coronary Artery Bypass
  • Female
  • Heart Diseases / surgery*
  • Heart Valve Prosthesis Implantation
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management*
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Postoperative Complications / therapy*
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome