Abdominal Massage for People With Constipation: A Cost Utility Analysis

J Adv Nurs. 2010 Aug;66(8):1719-29. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2010.05339.x. Epub 2010 Jun 16.


Aim: This paper is a report of a study conducted to evaluate change in health-related quality of life for people with constipation receiving abdominal massage and to estimate the cost-effectiveness of two alternative scenarios developed from the original trial.

Background: Constipation is a common problem and is associated with decrease in quality of life. Abdominal massage appears to decrease the severity of gastrointestinal symptoms, but its impact on health-related quality of life has not been assessed.

Methods: A randomized controlled trial including 60 participants was conducted in Sweden between 2005 and 2007. The control group continued using laxatives as before and the intervention group received additional abdominal massage. Health-related quality of life was assessed using the EQ-5D and analyzed with linear regression. Two scenarios were outlined to conduct a cost utility analysis. In the self-massage scenario patients learned to give self-massage, and in the professional massage scenario patients in hospital received abdominal massage from an Enrolled Nurse.

Results: Linear regression analysis showed that health-related quality of life was statistically significantly increased after 8 weeks of abdominal massage. About 40% were estimated to receive good effect. For 'self-massage', the cost per quality adjusted life year was euro75,000 for the first 16 weeks. For every additional week of abdominal massage, the average dropped and eventually approached euro8300. For 'professional massage', the cost per quality adjusted life year was euro60,000 and eventually dropped to euro28,000.

Conclusion: Abdominal massage may be cost-effective in the long-term and it is relevant to consider it when managing constipation. A crucial aspect will be to identify those who will benefit.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Constipation / economics
  • Constipation / physiopathology
  • Constipation / therapy*
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laxatives / economics
  • Laxatives / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Massage / economics*
  • Massage / nursing
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Dropouts
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Prospective Studies
  • Quality of Life*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Care / economics*
  • Sweden


  • Laxatives