Seated massage is effective in addressing anxiety in patients withdrawing from psychoactive drugs, according to new research.

The research design was a randomized, controlled clinical trial conducted from June 2008 to January 2009, according to a report published on Participants were 82 adult patients in Withdrawal Management Services at the Capital District Health Authority, in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, who were receiving inpatient treatment for withdrawal from psychoactive drugs including alcohol, cocaine and opiates.

Subjects were randomly assigned to receive chair massage or a relaxation control condition. “Treatments were offered for three consecutive days,” the Pub Med report noted. “Standard counseling and pharmacologic management were also offered concurrently to patients in all conditions.”

Researchers measured anxiety using the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). State and trait anxiety scores were determined immediately prior to and following each treatment intervention.

“Analysis of STAI scores showed a significant reduction in state and trait anxiety for both interventions,” the Pub Med report noted. “The magnitude in the reduction in state and trait anxiety was significantly greater in the chair massage group where the effect on state anxiety was sustained, at least in part, for 24 hours.”

The researchers concluded that, “Within the clinical context of this study, chair massage was more effective that relaxation control in reducing anxiety … Further investigation of chair massage as a potential nonpharmacologic adjunct in the management of withdrawal related anxiety is warranted.”

The research is running in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. (J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Sep;16(9):979-87.)

Editor’s note: See MASSAGE Magazine‘s upcoming November 2010 issue for a special article package on launching and marketing seated massage: “Take a Seat: Use On-site Massage to Promote Your Practice” and “Seated-Massage Therapists Share Stories of Success and Inspiration.”

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