Current Research Condition Studies

View Healing Touch research in the following categories:

Anxiety and Depressed Mood
Cancer Care
Immune System
Pain
Stress Reduction
Surgery
Spirituality


 Anxiety and Depressed Mood

Using Healing Touch for Anxiety & Depressed Mood
Anxiety and depression are common in today’s global society. The effects of these disorders may lead to personal, family and community hardship. Healing Touch may be able to help alleviate some of that suffering. For example, in a research study with heart patients Healing Touch was shown to reduce anxiety when used prior to a hospital procedure (1). In a study of women undergoing radiation treatment for cancer, those receiving Healing Touch showed more pronounced improvements in levels of depressed mood, anxiety and anger compared to the group that received a sham or fake healing session (2). In another study (3), patients receiving chemotherapy for cancer treatment had a decrease in depressed mood in each of the three intervention groups (Healing Touch, massage and presence), suggesting that the presence of a caring practitioner may help improve mood. The study results point to touch therapies (massage and Healing Touch) having an additional beneficial effect in improving mood, energy and reducing fatigue compared with presence only.

References

  1. Seskevich, JE, Crater, S.W., Lane, J.D., & Krucof, M.W. (2004). Beneficial effects of noetic therapies on mood before percutaneous intervention for unstable coronary syndromes. Nursing Research. 53(2), p.116-21.
  2. Cook, C.A.L., Guerrerio, J.F., Slater, V.E. (2004). Healing Touch and quality of life in women receiving radiation treatment for cancer: A randomized controlled trail, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 10(3), p. 24-41.
  3. Post-White, J., Kinney, M.E. Savik, K., Gau, J.B., Wilcox, C. & Lerner, I. (2003). Therapeutic massage and Healing Touch improve symptoms in cancer. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 2(4), 332-344.

Cancer Care

Use of Healing Touch for Supporting Cancer Care
The diagnosis of cancer often brings feelings of fear, anxiety and loss. The treatment phase of the disease focuses on the destruction of cancer cells and can often have an impact on healthy tissue. Healing Touch is able to provide a supportive environment for persons undergoing treatment for cancer. It also may help decrease some of the side effects of treatment and help improve quality of life. 

In this study by Cook and colleagues (1), women receiving radiation treatment for gynecological and breast cancer were randomly assigned to either a Healing Touch or control group. Those who received Healing Touch demonstrated better quality of life with significant differences in levels of vitality, pain and physical functioning. In another study (2), massage therapy, Healing Touch and presence were compared during cancer treatment. Both massage and Healing Touch significantly reduced levels of pain and mood disturbance. There also were decreased levels of fatigue in the Healing Touch group.

A number of programs for persons undergoing cancer treatment developed out of an innovative cancer support program called Bosom Buddies in Hawaii in the mid 1990s. In this program, women with breast cancer were offered Healing Touch over the course of their treatment. The success of this program has spread across the United States and now has various names including Healing Partners (Stanford Hospitals), LifeSpark Cancer Resources (Denver, Colorado), Healing Touch Buddies (Jupiter, Florida), and the Healing Touch Buddies Program (Amsterdam, New York). 

Healing Touch can often provide a sense of comfort and connection during difficult cancer regimens. After recovery, cancer survivors often learn Healing Touch and participate in service programs for cancer patients as a way to give back to others the benefits they perceived from receiving Healing Touch.   

References

  1. Cook, C.A.L., Guerrerio, J.F., Slater, V.E. (2004). Healing Touch and quality of life in women receiving radiation treatment for cancer: A randomized controlled trail, Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, 10(3), p. 24-41.
  2. Post-White, J., Kinney, M.E. Savik, K., Gau, J.B., Wilcox, C. & Lerner, I. (2003). Therapeutic massage and Healing Touch improve symptoms in cancer. Integrative Cancer Therapies, 2(4), 332-344.


Preservation of immune function in cervical cancer patients during chemoradiation using a novel integrative approach

Published in the journal Brain, Behavior and Immunity in 2010, this study by Susan Lutgendorf and colleagues at the University of Iowa compared the effects of Healing Touch, relaxation training or usual care in women with cervical cancer undergoing chemoradiation therapy. The investigators examined the effects of these three treatment arms on (1) cellular immunity, (2) mood and quality of life, and (3) treatment-associated toxicity and delay of treatment in these patients. Individuals in the Healing Touch group received 4 sessions per week for 6 weeks. Participants in the Healing Touch group had a minimal decrease in the number of natural killer cells (a marker of immune function) compared with participants in the relaxation therapy and usual care groups, whose natural killer cell numbers declined sharply. Additionally, those in the Healing Touch group experienced greater decreases in measures of depressed mood compared with individuals in the relaxation training and usual care groups. No significant differences between groups were observed in quality of life, treatment delay, or treatment-associated toxicity. For more information, the published article can be found using the following link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3010350/.

Reference:

Lutgendorf, S.K., Mullen-Houser, E., Russell, D., Degeest, K., Jacobson, G., Hart, L., Lubaroff, D.M. (2010). Preservation of immune function in cervical cancer patients during chemoradiation using a novel integrative approach. Brain Behavior and Immunity, 24, 1231-1240.


Immune System

The Influence of Healing Touch on the Immune System
One of the important defenses of the body is the immune system. Without an effective immune system, one can easily become infected with a number of viruses and hostile bacteria causing a wide variety of symptoms including colds, chronic illnesses and severe infections. The goal of Healing Touch is to promote healing and to improve the body's ability to heal. This requires a healthy immune system. The effects of Healing Touch on the immune system of the body are emerging. This important defense mechanism seems to be supported either directly or indirectly by Healing Touch possibly through modulation of stress. As testing procedures for determining immune function are included in research studies, more information will become available.

References

  1. Wilkinson, D., Knox, P., Chatman, J., Johnson, T., Barbour, N., Myles, Y., & Reel, A. (2002). The clinical effectiveness of Healing Touch. Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 8(1), 33-47.

Pain

Healing Touch for Decreasing Pain
The experience of pain is dependent on a number of factors, including such things as previous experience with pain and individual body chemistry and structure. Use of biofield therapies such as Healing Touch can influence a person’s response to pain in the many ways, including the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of being. For example, pain can be a reminder that you have extended your limits or a reminder that you need to take care of some aspect of your life that is creating a “pain.”

Healing Touch studies have been conducted measure effects on both acute and chronic pain (1) In a small study of chronic and severe pain resulting from spinal cord injury, Healing Touch decreased pain more compared with those who received progressive muscle relaxation (2). There are no contraindications for using energy work to relieve pain and it can be valuable in supplementing traditional approaches or using when other approaches are not successful (3).

References

  1. Wardell, D.W. & Weymouth, K. (2004). Review of studies of Healing Touch. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 36(2), 147-154.
  2. Wardell, D. Rintala, D. Tan, G., & Duan, Z. (2006). Pilot study of Healing Touch and progressive relaxation for chronic neuropathic pain in persons with spinal cord injury. Journal or Holistic Nursing, 24(4), 231-240.
  3. Wardell, D.W. (2000). The trauma release technique: How it is taught and experienced in Healing Touch. Alternative and Complementary Therapies, 6 (1), 20-27.

Stress Reduction

Healing Touch & Stress Reduction
Stress has both positive and negative effects on the human system. While a certain amount of stress is needed to encourage change and to move one forward with daily challenges, prolonged stress creates a “wearing down” of the body’s defenses (1). This can lead to changes in immune function that increase the risk of illness and affect the way the body heals. In our stressful lives, having the opportunity to come to a place of peace and rest is beneficial. Some who receive Healing Touch report that it feels like experiencing a deep meditation without the training and effort.

Healing Touch has been used in a variety of studies that measured reductions in stress. Many of these studies were done on students as they are reportedly situated in a high stress environment by the nature of constant evaluation (tests and grades) (4,5). Healing Touch was found to have a positive effect on reducing stress in this group, although it was not always significant. In individuals that are experiencing stressful events, like invasive medical procedures or treatment for severe diseases, Healing Touch also has been found to reduce levels of stress (6,8-10). 

References

  1. Dowd, T., Kolcaba, K, Steiner, R. & Fashinpaur, D. (2007). Comparison of a Healing Touch, coaching, and a combined intervention on comfort and stress in younger college students. Holistic Nursing Practice, 21(4), 194-202.
  2. Taylor, B. (2001). The effects of Healing Touch on the coping ability, self-esteem and general health of undergraduate nursing students. Complementary Therapies in Nursing and Midwifery, February, 34-42.
  3. Krucoff, M.W., Crater, S.W., Green, C.L., Massa, A.C., Seskevich, J.E., Lane, J.D., Loeffler, K.A., Morris, K., Mashore, T.M., & Koenig, G. (2001). Integrative noetic therapies as adjuncts to percutaneous intervention during unstable coronary syndromes: Monitoring and Actualization of Noetic Training (MANTRA) feasibility pilot. American Heart Journal, 142(5), 760-7.
  4. Krucoff, MW., Crater, S., Gallup, D., Blankenship, J., Cuffe, M., Guarneri, M., Kreiger, R., Kshettry, V., Morris, K., Oz, M., Pichard, A., Sketch, M., Kownig, H., Mark, D., & Lee, K. (2005). Music, Imagery, Touch and Prayer as Adjuncts to Interventional Cardiac Care : The Monitoring and Acutalization of Noetic Trainings (MANTRA) II Randomized Study. Lancet, 366, 211-217.   
  5. Seskevich, J.E., Crater, S.W., Lane, J.D. & Krucoff, M.W. (2004). Beneficial effects of noetic therapies on mood before percutaneous intervention for unstable coronary symptoms. Nursing Research, 53(2), p. 116-121.

Surgery

Using Healing Touch to Enhance Recovery from Surgery
The response of the human body to surgery can be varied and affect many of its systems from a physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual perspective. The body uses pain as a way to recognize that an injury has occurred and in this case a surgical incision and either removal or addition (in the case of joint replacement) is the trigger event. Recovery is often reflected in a variety of ways including the lack of complications, use of medication, time to discharge and other factors.

Healing Touch has been used prior to cardiac angioplasty with a reduction in adverse outcomes (1). In a follow up study, mortality at 6 months was lower with the combined Healing Touch, music, and imagery group, although this might have been due to other factors not associated with the intervention (2). Using Healing Touch before surgery was found to significantly decreased worry and increase satisfaction in another study (3). The Healing Touch group also showed a decrease in upsetness, sadness, and shortness of breath; and an increase in calmness, hope and happiness.

Healing Touch is being used in  hospitals across the country. Patients can request a session if Healing Touch is part of the hospital services or may bring in an outside practitioner. For a list of Certified Practitioners, please visit our Global Healing Touch Directory

References

  1. Krucoff, M., Crater, S., Green, C., Mass, A., Seskevich, J., Lane, J., Loeffler, K., Morris, K., Bashore, T., & Koenig, H. (2001). Integrative noetic therapies as adjuncts to percutaneous intervention during unstable coronary syndromes: Monitoring and actualization of noetic training (MANTRA) feasibility pilot. American Heart Journal, 142, 760-7.
  2. Krucoff, MW., Crater, S., Gallup, D., Blankenship, J., Cuffe, M., Guarneri, M., Kreiger, R., Kshettry, V., Morris, K., Oz, M., Pichard, A., Sketch, M., Kownig, H., Mark, D., & Lee, K. (2005). Music, Imagery, Touch and Prayer as Adjuncts to Interventional Cardiac Care : The Monitoring and Acutalization of Noetic Trainings (MANTRA) II Randomized Study. Lancet, 366, 211-217.      
  3. Seskevich, J.E., Crater, S.W., Lane, J.D. & Krucoff, M.W. (2004). Beneficial effects of noetic therapies on mood before percutaneous intervention for unstable coronary symptoms. Nursing Research, 53(2), p. 116-121.

Spirituality

Healing Touch Deepens Spiritual Connections
Spirituality, in many ways, describes the essence of the person, the soul or spirit connection and comes from the Latin spiritualis, of breathing, of wind (1). Healing Touch is believed to work with an individual’s energy field, which has a spiritual "layer" or component resulting in a heart-centered interaction between the client and practitioner. 

In an end of life study, Healing Touch participants reported increased relaxation, relief of pain, spiritual benefit, calmness and improved breathing (2). A large survey of over 300 Healing Touch students found those in higher levels of the program had higher scores on spirituality measures (3). The study findings suggest involvement in an energy-based therapy may be one way to develop spiritual awareness.

References

  1. Brown, L. (Ed.) (1993). The new shorter Oxford English dictionary. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
  2. Ziembroski J, Gilbert, N., Bossarte, R., Guldberg, G. (2003). Healing Touch and Hospice Care: Examining outcomes at the end of life. Alternative & Complementary Therapies. Volume 9, Number, 3; 146-151.
  3. Wardell, D. (2001). Spirituality of Healing Touch participants. The Journal of Holistic Nursing, 19 (1), 71-86.

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