An article published in The Journal of Supportive Oncology highlighted research that studied the feasibility of using a multimedia program to teach caregivers of veterans with cancer how to offer basic massage for supportive care at home. It also found the home-care massage provided relief from pain, anxiety and fatigue.

Twenty-seven dyads were recruited. Veterans were 78 percent male. Caregivers were 78 percent female; 81 percent were spouses. Forty-eight percent of the veterans were diagnosed with hematologic malignancies (85 percent, advanced stage); 52 percent were diagnosed with solid tumors (64 percent advanced stage).

Feasibility was assessed according to partner availability, compliance with watching training materials and practicing massage regularly, compliance with data collection; perceived study materials burden; clarity of instructional and other study materials. Pre- and post-massage changes in patients’ symptom scores were measured using a numerical rate scale. A semistructured exit interview was answered by patient and caregiver at the end of the study.

Among the results of “A feasibility study of caregiver-provided massage as supportive care for Veterans with cancer”:

Out of the 27 pairs, 11 completed 8 weeks of data and practiced massage weekly. The majority of attrition (69 percent) was due to caregivers’ burden. Caregivers reported instructional materials were clear, high quality, and easy to use. Patients were highly satisfied with receiving touch from their partners regularly.

Post-massage symptom scores showed statistically significant decreases in pain, stress and anxiety, and fatigue. Perceived burden of data collection instruments was high, particularly for patients.

“It is feasible to use the [this] program to train caregivers of veterans with cancer to offer massage for supportive care at home,” the investigators noted. “Future studies should evaluate ways of providing support to caregivers, including offering massage to them, and easing the burden of data collection for patients.”