E S E A R C H
Eases Anxiety for Pregnant, Chemically Dependent Women
Therapeutic Touch significantly
reduced the anxiety of pregnant inpatients with chemical dependencies,
according to a recent study.
"Efficacy of Therapeutic Touch
in Treating Pregnant Inpatients Who Have a Chemical Dependency"
was conducted at British Columbia Women's Hospital, in Vancouver.
The study involved 54 pregnant women,
with an average age of 27, who had been hospitalized for the treatment
of a chemical dependency. Subjects were randomly assigned to one
of three groups: Therapeutic Touch, presence or standard Care.
Therapeutic Touch involves a practitioner
moving her hands over the recipient's body, with conscious, positive
intent, in order to redirect energy, often without physical contact.
Subjects in the Therapeutic Touch group
were given 20-minute standardized sessions of Therapeutic Touch,
by one of six nurses/practitioners, for seven days in a row. However,
some subjects left the hospital against medical advice, in which
case the sessions continued if and when they returned.
“Participants who withdrew left
without explanation, and it is assumed, as is common among this population,
that they returned to use of street drugs,” state the study’s
authors. “The treatments, therefore, were not provided on consecutive
days but were interrupted for variable periods for most of the study
Women in the presence group spent 20
minutes per day for seven days in a row with one of the six nurses,
either talking, playing cards, doing a puzzle, or a similar activity.
Again, if a participant left the ward, the presence sessions were
resumed upon their return.
Subjects in the standard-care group received
standard care for chemical dependency during pregnancy, which aims
at limiting withdrawal symptoms and persuading the women to abstain
from drug use. Methadone is commonly used to relieve the symptoms
Outcome measures were anxiety and the
severity of withdrawal symptoms. The State-Trait Anxiety Inventory
was used to measure subjects’ levels of anxiety. The Symptom
Checklist was used to evaluate subjects’ withdrawal symptoms
during the previous 24 hours. The checklist is made up of seven
questions about withdrawal symptoms, such as drug cravings, physical
symptoms, sleep disturbances, anxiety, depression, concentration
and energy level.
Both the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory
and the Symptom Checklist were administered to all participants
before the study began. Thereafter, the Symptom Checklist was completed
before each Therapeutic Touch or presence session began, and the
State-Trait Anxiety Inventory was completed after each session.
Subjects in the standard-care group filled out both questionnaires
Results of the study showed that, during
the first three sessions of Therapeutic Touch, recipients had significantly
lower levels of anxiety compared to the presence and standard-care
groups. After day five of the study, the number of women participating
dropped, and although the anxiety scores for the Therapeutic Touch
group remained lower, the difference was no longer statistically
Withdrawal symptoms did not change
significantly for subjects in any group during the study.
“This study suggests that [Therapeutic
Touch] may promote lower levels of anxiety in pregnant inpatients
with a chemical dependency compared to nursing presence alone or
standard care,” state the study’s authors. “These
results are meaningful in recognition of the high incidence of anxiety
found in women with a chemical dependency.”
- Source: British Columbia
Women's Hospital, in Vancouver. Authors: Cheryl N. Larden, R.N.;
M. Lynne Palmer, R.N.; and Patricia Janssen, R.N., Ph.D. Originally
published in Journal of Holistic Nursing, December 2004, Vol. 22,
No. 4, pp. 320-332.