Research: Massage to Reduce Fatigue & Anxiety in Cancer Patients

Some Recent Research

A 2013 study published in Applied Nursing Research shows that back massage given during chemotherapy can significantly reduce anxiety and acute fatigue in cancer patients.

Study Methods and Protocol

40 cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy were divided into two groups: an intervention group and a control group. Mean anxiety scores and fatigue levels for both groups were recorded before and after each session. The intervention group received a back massage from oncology nurses during the chemotherapy treatments, while the control group received no massage.


Patients who received massage while undergoing chemotherapy recorded a significant reduction in the levels of fatigue (effect size of 0.84) and anxiety (effect size of 0.37) following their chemotherapy treatments. Based on the results of the study, the use of back massage by oncology nurses appears to be an effective approach to reducing the anxiety levels of cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy treatments.

Related: Cancer & Massage Therapy—Essential Contraindications | 2.5 Credit Hours and Cancer & Massage Therapy—Treatment | 3 Credit Hours


Karagozoglu S, Kahve E. Effects of back massage on chemotherapy-related fatigue and anxiety: supportive care and therapeutic touch in cancer nursing. Appl Nurs Res. 2013 Nov;26(4):210-7. doi: 10.1016/j.apnr.2013.07.002. Epub 2013 Sep 20. PubMed PMID: 24055114.

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