Massage therapy is valuable component of hospice care, for its ability to effect relaxation and pain relief. New research supports the use of pain-relieving interventions for end-of-care.

According to a press release from the University of Louisville, health care workers can most directly affect quality of life of patients with advanced stage lung cancer by helping manage symptoms such as pain, lack of energy, shortness of breath, coughing, difficulty sleeping and dry mouth, according to a study recently published in the journal Oncology Nursing Forum.

The researchers interviewed 80 patients with either stage IIIb or IV lung cancer who were newly diagnosed or had recurrent lung cancer. The study measured symptom frequency, severity, and distress; functional status; anxiety and depression. Within five months of diagnosis, 40 patients had died. The strongest determinant of quality of life was symptom distress, followed by symptom severity, symptom frequency and depression.

“People at the end of life have a wide variety of needs, and health care workers need to evaluate patients holistically – focusing not only on physical needs but also on their psycho-social and spiritual needs,” said Carla Hermann, Ph.D., R.N., associate professor at the University of Louisville School of Nursing. “The end of life can be a time of great personal growth for many, and nurses and other health care professionals can help foster that growth.”

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