Background: Despite the promising short-term pain relief effect of massage, little is known regarding its sustained effects on pain intensity and pain-related interference with functioning.
Aims: To evaluate the sustained effect of hand massage on the pain intensity and pain-related interference with functioning of cardiac surgery patients.
Design: A randomized controlled trial.
Settings: A medical-surgical intensive care unit in Canada.
Participants/subjects: Adult patients undergoing cardiac surgery and at low risk for postoperative complications were eligible.
Methods: In the intensive care unit, patients were randomly assigned to either 20-minute hand massage, hand holding, or rest. Pain intensity and pain-related interference with functioning were assessed on the second postoperative day.
Results: A total of 60 patients were randomly allocated and 46 completed data collection on the second postoperative day. Although no significant differences were identified across groups, the hand massage group reported a maximum pain intensity (median 5.75, range: 2-10) that was lower than the hand-holding (median 6.50, range: 1-10) and standard care groups (median 6.25, range: 0-10). The hand massage group could reach 0 pain intensity throughout a 24-hour period (median 0, range: 0-7), contrary to the hand-holding (median 2, range: 0-5) and standard care groups (median 2, range: 0-4.5). A trend for statistical significance was noted for dichotomized ratings on pain interference with walking (p = .176) and sleep (p = .050).
Conclusions: Hand massage could help patients experience longer periods without pain and lower levels of maximum pain intensity. When coupled with recovery activities, hand massage could reduce pain-related interference with functioning.
Copyright © 2019 American Society for Pain Management Nursing. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.