Therapeutic Massage During Chemotherapy and/or Biotherapy Infusions: Patient Perceptions of Pain, Fatigue, Nausea, Anxiety, and Satisfaction

Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2016 Apr;20(2):E34-40. doi: 10.1188/16.CJON.E34-E40.


Background: Patients with cancer commonly experience disease or treatment side effects, including pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety. An expanding body of literature supports the use of therapeutic massage (TM) as an adjunct to conventional therapies to manage these side effects.

Objectives: This article describes patients' perceptions of pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety and their overall satisfaction with TM provided concurrently with chemotherapy and/or biotherapy.

Methods: In an academic outpatient comprehensive cancer center, consenting patients were asked to identify massage site preference (hands and/or feet). The licensed massage therapist delivered TM for 20 minutes to patients concurrently receiving chemotherapy and/or biotherapy. Patients rated their pain, fatigue, nausea, and anxiety pre- and post-TM using a Likert-type scale. Qualitative and quantitative data related to patients' perceived value of TM were obtained postintervention.

Findings: Participants (N = 58) reported a statistically significant reduction in each of the following variables.

Keywords: anxiety; fatigue; massage; nausea; pain; satisfaction.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Ambulatory Care
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Combined Chemotherapy Protocols / adverse effects*
  • Anxiety / etiology
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Biological Therapy / adverse effects
  • Biological Therapy / methods
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Intravenous
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nausea / etiology
  • Nausea / therapy*
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pain / etiology
  • Pain / physiopathology*
  • Pain Management / methods
  • Patient Satisfaction / statistics & numerical data
  • Pilot Projects
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome