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A study of the long-term effects of massage and aromatherapy on the physical and psychological symptoms of patients with advanced cancer showed that the intervention significantly improved subjects’ quality of sleep, but provided only short-term benefits for pain and anxiety.
42 participants diagnosed with cancer were randomly assigned to receive massage with lavender essential oil and an inert carrier oil; or massage with an inert carrier oil only; or no massage.
Participants in the massage groups received a 30-minute standardized back massage once a week for four weeks. Subjects in the no-massage group - the control group - completed the researchers’ questionnaires and assessments, but received no intervention.
Evaluations of pain, sleep and the Hospital and Anxiety Depression scale also took place on a weekly basis. Results showed that subjects in both massage groups had significantly better sleep scores than subjects in the control group at the end of the study.
The study also showed a statistically significant reduction in pain for both the massage groups following the second massage treatment, but no long-term pain reduction at the end of the study.
There were no statistically significant long-term differences among groups for either the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale or the Rotterdam Symptom Checklist. Subjects in the massage-only group, however, had significantly better scores on the Hospital Anxiety and Depression scale after the second and fourth massage sessions.