Massage Therapy vs. Simple Touch to Improve Pain and Mood in Patients with Advanced Cancer: A Randomized Trial



It was assumed through literature review including 60 small studies that message therapy contains the possible chance of relieving pain among cancer patients. However, to establish the hypothesis it was necessary to implement a wide scale of data gathering and intervention with primary data with a bigger population.

For the purpose several sites were taken into consideration on a random basis for clinical trial. The basic and primary setting was carried out in PoPCRN or Population-based Palliative Care Research Network. This included 380 cancer patients with moderate serving pain. They were all adults and out of the total population the number of hospices was about 90%.


A well formulated qualitative method was used for the study. Qualitative research is a broad expression for exploratory methodologies characterized as ethnographic, naturalistic, anthropological, field, or participant observer research.

It highlights the importance of taking a look at variables in light of the inherent backgrounds in which they are to be found. Interaction amongst the variables is significant in this regard. Comprehensive information is collected by means of open ended queries that present direct references. The researcher, questionnaire designer or the interviewer constitutes a very fundamental component of the investigation process.

This approach diverges from those adopted in quantitative research techniques which make efforts to collect data by objective routines to facilitate analysis and present information on the issues of relations, comparisons, and forecasts and makes an attempt to do away with the role of the investigator from the process of investigation. (Flyvbjerg 2006)

The primary objective of this qualitative research is to understand the people’s perception of a particular issue. Qualitative researches focus on a holistic description. In the process of conducting qualitative researches, the researchers aspire to procure an overall or complete picture. A holistic description of proceedings, incidents, and philosophies taking place in its inherent background is frequently required to facilitate precise situational decisions.

This is at variance as compared to quantitative research approaches in which carefully chosen, pre-defined variables are examined. Corroboration is an important aspect of Qualitative research approaches.

The rationale underlying corroboration is not to validate whether the people’s opinion are accurate or factual representation of a particular situation but somewhat to make sure that the research discoveries truthfully echo the people’s viewpoint, irrespective of what they are.

The intention of the corroboration process is to help the researchers enhance their understanding of the likelihood that their judgments will be perceived as plausible or worthy of contemplation by others. (FHI 2008)

As the entire process was aimed towards the insights of patients, it is undoubted that qualitative method was the best possible method available. This is because the type of data collected was most suitable for this method.

Data analysis

Initially, 30 minutes simple touch session or message session divided in 6 steps were applied on the patients over a period of 14 days. After the interventions were carried out surveys were presented that included a well formulated questions to understand the pain related conditions of the patients.

This was fundamentally divided into two parts. The first part included immediate outcomes and it was referred to as Primary outcome phase 1 and it was recorded from 1-10 scale in the context of change in the feel of pain. This scale of 1-10 was called MPAC or Memorial Pain Assessment Card.

The phase 2 of the Primary outcome included a sustained outcome and this too was measured on a scale of 1-10 and it was called BPI or Brief Pain Inventory. The secondary outcomes were recorded on a scale of 1-10 and a heart rate change was noted on the parameters of McGill Quality of Life Questionnaire.

Here the MSAS or Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale, from 1-4, was used as a measure of symptom distress. However, to assess the change in comparison with chemical intervention, parenteral morphine equivalents were used as analgesic medication and the results were recorded. It was found that the sustained outcomes were valid for 348 patients and immediate outcome was result among 298 patents. (Kutner et al 2008)

Validity and Reliability

One specifically important process concerned with corroboration is that of triangulation. There exist various forms of triangulation. One form entails the convergence of compound data sources. A different form is methodological triangulation, which entails the convergence of the information from compound data gathering sources. (Burns, N & Grove 2005)

A third triangulation from is presented by investigator triangulation, wherein several researchers are engaged in a particular research initiative. Interrelated with investigator triangulation is another form of corroboration dubbed as researcher-participant corroboration, which is also known as cross-examination. Other processes can also be employed to enhance understanding and / or the reliability of an examination.

These involve research or inquiry appraisal, peer examination, and the looking out for negative cases which might invalidate interpretations when tested against those cases. It was found that the information was recorded correctly.

All documented information was meticulously preserved in the shape of comprehensive notes or electronic documentations. These accounts were also generated in the course of instead of subsequent to the data gathering process. As a result the use of the method and the validity along with its reliability was satisfactory.

Assignment Task – Part D – Conclusion

It was found in the research that the initial hypothesis was proved to be valid. The authors were confidant from the study that the intervention of application of message was helpful in the context of cancer at an advanced stage.

However, sustainability was not present in the study and thus it was formulated that this usage of message was to be applied only to reduce pain on a temporary basis. However, in accordance to the hypothesis this was assumed in the formulating part itself.

Obviously, when consumers seek healthcare, the patients are putting their health and perhaps their lives in the hands of the healthcare providers; therefore, it is necessary to assure the quality of the study. Logically, the best measures of quality should be a combination of both the message usage and the clinical measures.

By reviewing patient ratings authors can determine if particular healthcare professionals will not only address their medical needs, but also their emotional needs as patients. However, it is equally as important to examine the ratings provided by the experts in clinical measurement as these examine aspects of medical care that are unfamiliar to the lay person.

By familiarizing themselves with both methods, patients are more likely to receive quality care. Not only does this study give patients the ability to view treatment and pain relief and clinical measurements, but also the opportunity to rate their own providers. Thus, a formulation of theory of the study in a hospital setting should be implemented in the context of elasticity principals.

Only then a consistent result would come out that would ultimately help the patient in the end. It was found that the conclusion was well supported by the data presented and was well backed up by the literature review. The conclusion of the study answers the entire hypothesis that was initially laid down and the study can be termed as successful.

Ethical issues

The matter of patient confidentiality is of prime importance to a medical practitioner. This is because everything related to the treatment of the patient is based on a faith on the medical practitioner and the patient is willing to have complete belief on the medical practitioner.

In this context it is the duty of the medical practitioner to maintain an ethical code that would bar the medical practitioner from parting with the medical and non medical details with non medical personnel. It is ultimately the matter of faith and honoring the faith that the patients have on the medical practitioner. (PSNI 2008)

The study maintained all these factors and thus it could be stated that the paper clearly outlined and commented upon including any resource or funding bias.

Final verdict

Overall, it should be stated that the study performed by the authors is a very well organized text and is well documented all over. The principals are well understood and utilized and thus make the study a very interesting piece of reading.

It is commendable that the authors explored a number of areas in study. They were well disciplined while analyzing the outcome of the different parameters of the theory. As a result, it is becomes a good piece of study and the diverse loopholes of the critics against message therapy, insignificant and substantial, indicated by the authors becomes a good case for future studies.


Burns, N & Grove, S.K. (2005) The practice of nursing research: conduct, critique, and utilization, Edition 5, Elsevier Health Sciences, NY.

FHI. (2008) Qualitative Research Methods: A Data Collector’s Field Guide, [Online].

Flyvbjerg, B. (2006) Five Misunderstandings About Case-Study Research, [Online].

Kutner, J.S., Smith, M.C., Corbin, L., Hemphill, L., Benton, K., Mellis, K., Beaty, B., Yamashita, T.E., Bryant, B.E. and Fairclough, D.L. (2008 September 16) ‘Massage Therapy vs. Simple Touch to Improve Pain and Mood in Patients with Advanced Cancer: A Randomized Trial’, Ann Intern Med, vol. 149, no. 6, pp. 369-379.

PSNI. (2008) Professional Standards and Guidance for Patient Confidentiality, [Online].

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