The effects of deep pressure touch on anxiety

Am J Occup Ther. 1987 Jun;41(6):366-73. doi: 10.5014/ajot.41.6.366.


Occupational therapists who work with hyperactive children and adults who are in an aroused state sometimes employ deep pressure touch (DPT) as a therapeutic method to achieve calmer behavior. This pilot study attempts to measure effects of DPT on objective and subjective anxiety. Twenty-three healthy college students, serving as their own controls, self-administered DPT via a specially designed apparatus. Heart rate and self-reported anxiety were compared under conditions of DPT (experimental) and confinement without DPT (control). Data on subjects' trait anxiety also were analyzed. Although the group as a whole did not relax significantly more under experimental conditions than under control conditions, the degree of subjective relaxation was greater in the experimental group. These results, coupled with a significant intragroup difference in the response of subjects with high trait anxiety, were encouraging. This study provides direction and focus to investigators interested in further research on the validation of an empirically useful treatment technique.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Equipment and Supplies
  • Female
  • Heart Rate
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Occupational Therapy / methods
  • Pressure
  • Touch*