The impact of healing touch on pediatric oncology patients

Integr Cancer Ther. 2013 Jan;12(1):25-30. doi: 10.1177/1534735412446864. Epub 2012 Jun 17.


Hypotheses: Healing Touch (HT) is an energy therapy that has been shown to lower stress, pain, and fatigue in adult oncology patients. This study evaluated the feasibility of administering HT in pediatric oncology inpatient and outpatient units at Kapi'olani Medical Center for Women and Children.

Study design: This study was a 1-year randomized prospective study consisting of 2 study arms. The HT arm was considered the treatment group, and reading/play activity was designated as the control group. Participants were randomly assigned to each arm on enrollment in the study.

Methods: They were recruited by the pediatric oncology social worker. Interested participants were asked to provide informed consent and were randomized to either the HT arm or the reading/play activity arm of the study. They received their designated intervention for 30 minutes at each inpatient or outpatient encounter. Participants, parents, and care providers were asked to complete preintervention and postintervention assessments.

Results: In all, 15 participants, aged 3 to 18 years old, were approached about the study between July 2009 and June 2010. A total of 9 participants enrolled (recruitment rate of 60%); 6 patients were randomized to receive HT sessions, and 3 patients received reading/play activities; 2 participants dropped out of the study because of prolonged hospitalizations and complicated treatments. An additional participant expired while in the study because of disease progression. Those in the HT group showed significant decreases in the scores for pain, stress, and fatigue for participants, parents, and caregivers. Furthermore, parents' perception of their children's pain decreased significantly for the HT group when compared with the group receiving reading/play activity.

Conclusion: This study demonstrates the feasibility of using energy therapy in the pediatric oncology patient population. There also seems to be an interest in this treatment modality for this patient population. Furthermore, these findings suggest that HT has a positive impact on pain, stress, and fatigue related to oncology treatment.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / therapy*
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain Management / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Therapeutic Touch / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome