Lara M. Genik1, Shannon Marshall1, C. Meghan McMurtry1, Adam Rapoport1, Jennifer Stinson1
Pain and worry are common and often under-managed symptoms for children in palliative care. Massage therapy (MT) holds promise for these children in not only managing pain and worry, but also in improving quality of life. As part of a larger pilot study, we examined the impact of a four week MT intervention on pain, worry, and quality of life for youth with cancer in palliative care. Methods: Participants completed baseline and follow-up measures one week before and after the MT intervention series, including the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL; cancer module). Children received four weekly sixty minute MT sessions and completed pain (Faces Pain Scale Revised) and worry (Children’s Fear Scale) ratings immediately before and after each massage. Results: Eight youth [5 males; mean age (years): 14.57; age range (years): 10 - 17] completed the study. There was a significant decrease in children’s pain ratings immediately following each MT session, (range pre: 4.67 – 5.50; range post: 1.50 – 2.00; 10 = very much pain; p's<.05). Children’s worry ratings also showed significant decrease immediately after two MT sessions (range pre: 1.17 – 2.00; range post: 0.17 - 0.60; 4 = the most worried or scared possible; p's<.05). There was no significant difference between children’s self-reported quality of life one week after completing the 4 weeks of MT. Conclusions: MT may be helpful in managing immediate pain and worry for youth in palliative care; however, it may not have lasting effects with respect to improving quality of life.