The efficacy of abdominal massage in managing opioid-induced constipation

Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2019 Aug;41:110-119. doi: 10.1016/j.ejon.2019.05.013. Epub 2019 Jun 1.


Purpose: This study was conducted to determine the effects of abdominal massage in managing opioid-induced constipation.

Methods: Designed as a randomized controlled trial, this study was conducted between February 2017 and January 2018 with the participation of 204 patients who had complaints of opioid-induced constipation. The experimental and control group, each of which included 102 patients, were randomised using a previously prepared randomization checklist. Patients in the experimental group were given a 15-min video-guided abdominal massage training by the researcher, and the patients in this group were asked to perform abdominal massage for 4 weeks, twice a day, 30 min after breakfast and dinner. In the control group, the standard approach of the clinic was applied. A patient data form, the Defecation Diary, Visual Analogue Scale, and Patient Assessment of Constipation Quality of Life Questionnaire were used to the study.

Results: The data from the study showed that abdominal massage decreased the severity of constipation, the feeling of incomplete bowel emptying, the severity of straining, the severity of anal pain, and bloating (p < 0.05), provided better stool consistency (p < 0.05) and increased the number of defecations as well as quality of life scores (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: The abdominal massage application increased the number of defecations by 13% and was an effective approach for managing opioid-induced constipation symptoms.

Keywords: Abdominal massage; Constipation management; Opioid-induced constipation; Quality of life.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analgesics, Opioid / adverse effects*
  • Constipation / chemically induced*
  • Constipation / therapy*
  • Defecation / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult


  • Analgesics, Opioid