Impact of Massage Therapy on Well-Being for Parents of Children Recovering From Traumatic Injury

Posted:Friday, August 5, 2016

Natalie Williams, PhD
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Lincoln, Nebraska


The purpose of this research project is to examine the effects of massage therapy as an intervention strategy to improve parents’ well-being in the context of child rehabilitation from severe injury/illness. Although the symptomatic benefits of therapeutic massage have been documented, massage represents a novel intervention to promote physical and psychological wellbeing among caregivers of children recovering from severe injury or illness. Participants for this study include parents of 40 children receiving inpatient rehabilitation for severe injury or illness at Alexis Verzal Children’s Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Nebraska. Following enrollment, participants are randomized to receive either three massage sessions per week for two weeks, or one massage session per week for two weeks. For all participants, regardless of group assignment, study outcomes are assessed pre-intervention (occurring at enrollment, prior to randomization) and post-intervention (occurring two weeks post enrollment). Primary outcomes include self-report measures of psychological functioning (positive and negative mood, anxiety, depression) and perceived stress. For our secondary outcomes, saliva samples are collected to assess the effects of massage on salivary cortisol (to measure stress response) and salivary alpha-amylase (to measure autonomic nervous system activation) reactivity during a verbal stress task. Participants’ sleep is also measured using actigraphy.