Randomised controlled trial of the effectiveness of using back massage to improve sleep quality among Taiwanese insomnia postpartumwomen

Midwifery. 2014 Jan;30(1):60-4. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2012.11.005. Epub 2013 Feb 11.


Objective: to examine the effectiveness of using back massage to improve sleep quality in postpartum women.

Design and setting: randomised controlled trial, conducted at a postpartum centre in Northern Taiwan.

Participants: sixty postpartum women reporting poor quality of sleep were recruited from February 2012 to May 2012.

Interventions: participants were assigned randomly to either an intervention or a control group. Participants in both groups received the same care except for back massage therapy. The intervention group received a single 20-minutes back massage session at the same time each evening for 5 consecutive days. Sessions were administered by a certified massage therapist.

Measures and finding: the outcome measure was the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), which was administered pre- and post-test. Using a generalised estimation equation to control several confounding variables, the changes in mean PSQI were significantly lower in the intervention group (B=-3.97, standard error=0.43, p<0.001) than in the control group.

Conclusions: an intervention involving back massage in the postnatal period significantly improved the quality of sleep.

Implications for practice: midwives should evaluate maternal sleep quality and design early intervention programs to improve the quality of sleep, to increase maternal health. Midwives interested in complementary therapies should be encouraged to obtain training in back massage and to apply it in postpartumcare.

Keywords: Back therapeutic massage; Complementary medicine; Insomnia postpartum women.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / nursing
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Massage*
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / nursing
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*
  • Taiwan
  • Treatment Outcome