Purpose: A randomized controlled trial was conducted to evaluate outcomes of a multimedia instructional program for family caregivers in simple touch-based techniques to provide comfort to cancer patients at home.
Methods: A multilingual 78-min DVD and 66-page manual were produced for homebased instruction. Content addresses attitudes and communication about touch in cancer, psychological preparation for giving and receiving touch, safety precautions, massage techniques for comfort and relaxation, acupressure for specific cancer-related symptoms, and practice in the home setting. Materials were produced in English, Spanish, and Chinese versions. A community-based multiethnic sample of 97 adult patient/caregiver dyads was randomized to experimental (massage) or attention control (reading) groups for 4 weeks. Massage dyads received the program and instructions to practice at least three times per week, while control caregivers read to their patients for the same frequency. Self-report instruments assessed change in symptom severity, quality of life, perceived stress, and caregiver attitudes.
Results: Significant reductions in all symptoms occurred for patients after both activities: 12-28 % reductions after reading vs. 29-44 % after massage. Massage caregivers showed significant gains in confidence, comfort, and self-efficacy using touch and massage as forms of caregiving.
Conclusions: Multimedia instruction in touch and massage methods may offer family members a viable means of enhancing self-efficacy and satisfaction in caregiving while decreasing patient pain, depression, and other symptoms. Family members may be able to learn and apply safe and simple methods that increase patient comfort and reduce distress.