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Research Brief 2015 Edition

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Summary of Topics on Research and Strategies For The Future

A message from the Research Director

The purpose of this publication is to revise and synthesize the previous Healing Touch Research Survey into a document demonstrating evidence-based practice of Healing Touch in the clinical setting. Previous versions of the publication provided an overview of the current state of knowledge of Healing Touch research, as well as studies in progress. This older publication included a brief summary or abstract of each Healing Touch study or project, and identified whether these studies were published in peer-reviewed journals, Perspectives in Healing, presented at conferences, or were unpublished theses or dissertations. This new publication is different in many ways, as described below.

Why this change? The current focus of healthcare in the United States and internationally is on evidence-based practice. Healthcare providers look for and incorporate into practice research findings that have been peer-reviewed. Evidence-based practice involves a systematic review of the available evidence and ranks this evidence in a hierarchical fashion. While several different ranking hierarchies are used in health care (ex. Levels 1-4, Levels 1-5, Grades A-E), all focus on peer-reviewed publications. While all research related to Healing Touch is of value, either to determine efficacy, study design, methods or areas of focus, only those studies that are published in peer-reviewed journals will play a major role in supporting the evidence-based practice of Healing Touch and its inclusion in conventional medical care. Toward that aim, this new publication focuses only on those studies that have been published in peer-reviewed journals. Additionally, you will find evidence grades (A, B and C) for each section related to clinical research results. The historical listing of studies found in previous editions of the Healing Touch Research Survey is archived and accessible on the Healing Beyond Borders website. Additionally, a current bibliography of peer-reviewed articles involving Healing Touch can be found on the website.

Another significant change in this new publication is the inclusion of research that does not involve Healing Touch specifically, but is related to biofield and mind-body therapies. Evidence-based practice considers all of the evidence that relates to the clinical area of interest. In gathering evidence to support research studies and projects, investigators must review research related to the patient population of interest, the disease process under study, or the symptoms to be managed. By including additional research related to biofield and mind-body therapies, such as Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, qigong, and meditation, the new publication gives a clearer picture of the state of the science in biofield therapy research, specifically as it relates to Healing Touch.

Finally, the new publication includes research strategies and priorities for future research involving Healing Touch. This synthesis of research findings related to Healing Touch would not be complete without including identified knowledge gaps and priorities for future research.

The intention of the Research Committee in creating this publication has not changed. The publication is meant to provide a reference tool useful for stakeholders to promote, encourage, and engage in research involving Healing Touch. It is hoped that this new format and approach will add clarity to that intention.

Joel G. Anderson, PhD, CHTP
Research Director and Board of Directors