No-cost health care: Simple touch and massage techniques, easily learned and safely administered by family members, reduce symptoms of cancer and side-effects of cancer treatments.

Newswise — Sponsored by the National Cancer Institute, a recent research study has revealed that touch and massage, routinely administered by care partners significantly reduces the effects of cancer and the side effects from its treatment while providing comfort and improvement in the quality of life. During the study, family caregivers learned touch and massage techniques from an instructional DVD.

“The magnitude of the impact of family members was unexpected. Our research found significant reductions of pain, anxiety, fatigue, depression and nausea when massage was routinely administered at home by family and caregivers,” states lead researcher William Collinge, Ph.D.

The study found massage by family members reduced stress/anxiety (44 percent reduction), pain (34 percent), fatigue (32 percent), depression (31 percent) and nausea (29 percent).

“The discovery that family members can learn and administer simple massage techniques that can consistently reduce stress is significant. Stress is a constant that negatively impacts the lives and well-being of cancer patients,” states Collinge. “Both cancer patients and caregivers benefit because massage appears to strengthen the relationship bond. Massage provides the caregiver a way to make a difference.”

Collinge, the principal investigator and president of Collinge and Associates, reports an interesting fact, “Across all cancer patients, the frequency of massages averaged about four per week. Particularly interesting was the discovery of the importance of the duration of massages, especially for stage IV patients. Our findings revealed that, over a four week period, 78 percent of stage IV patients experienced a reduction of stress when the massages they received averaged at least 13.75 minutes. Only 15 percent of those receiving briefer massages reported a reduction of stress. This is a significant difference. It appears that 14 minutes is some kind of a ‘tipping point’ where, over time, the effects of massages by family members and caregivers accumulate and thus reduce stress in advanced cancer patients.”

The study, sponsored by the National Cancer Institute and directed by Collinge, used a 78-minute instructional DVD, Touch, Caring, and Cancer: Simple Instruction for Family and Friends. In the study, 97 care partners learned touch and massage techniques from the instructional DVD and then used these touch techniques to safely care for people living with cancer.

The DVD, accompanied by an illustrated manual, provides simple instructions for using touch and massage as a way of bringing comfort and relief to people living with cancer. This one-of-a-kind instructional DVD showcases safety tips and techniques from leading experts in cancer support and massage. These techniques can easily be learned by family and friends.

“Care partners receiving instruction via a video can achieve some of the same results as professional massage practitioners,” states Collinge. “There are 11 million people in the U.S. living with cancer. Care partners providing relief through touch has important implications for patient quality of life.”

Touch, Caring, and Cancer: Simple Instruction for Family and Friends was a winner in two Telly Award categories: health and wellness, and social issues. This DVD program is now available to the public in English, Spanish and Chinese. More information and video previews are available at www.partnersinhealing.net/dvd.

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