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Pain Research and Management
Volume 4, Issue 2, Pages 81-88
Original Article

A Randomized Controlled Study of the Pain- and Tension-Reducing Effects of 15 Min Workplace Massage Treatments Versus Seated Rest for Nurses in a Large Teaching Hospital

Joel Katz,1,2,4,5 Adarose Wowk,2 Dianne Culp,3 and Heather Wakeling3

1Department of Psychology, The Toronto Hospital, Canada
2Acute Pain Research Unit, Department of Anaesthesia, The Toronto Hospital and Mount Sinai Hospital, Canada
3The Toronto Hospital Fitness Centre, Canada
4Department of Public Health Sciences, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
5Department of Anaesthesia, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Copyright © 1999 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVES: To evaluate whether a series of eight 15 min, on-site massage treatments would be effective in reducing pain and tension in nursing staff at a large teaching hospital.

HYPOTHESES: On-site massage treatment would result in reduced pain intensity and tension levels and increased relaxation compared with a control group receiving seated rest.

DESIGN: Randomized, controlled trial of eight sessions of Swedish massage therapy versus eight sessions of seated rest.

PARTICIPANTS: Thirty-two hospital staff (29 registered nurses and three clerical staff) volunteers.

SETTING: Participants were recruited from a tertiary care centre.

OUTCOME MEASURES: Pulse rate (beats/min), pain measured using a 10 cm Visual Analogue Scale (VAS), tension (VAS), relaxation (yes/no) and the Profile of Mood States (POMS) were measured before and after each session.

RESULTS: The groups did not differ significantly on baseline demographic variables or in attendance rates. Post-treatment VAS pain, VAS tension, and total POMS scores showed the same pattern of results: one-way ANCOVAs revealed a significant effect of the covariate (mean pretreatment score averaged across sessions attended) and a significant main effect for groups indicating that post-treatment pain, tension and POMS scores were significantly lower in the massage group than in he seated rest group (all P<0.001). A greater proportion of the massage group reported a sense of relaxation, and had pain and tension relief that persisted for up to a day or longer post massage (P<0.0009).

CONCLUSIONS: The provision of on-site massage treatments for nursing staff at a large teaching hospital resulted in significant reductions in pain and tension levels and an increase in overall mood compared with a control group that received seated rest.