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Rhythmical Massage Therapy in Chronic Disease: a 4-year Prospective Cohort Study

The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine Vol. 13, No. 6


Objective: Rhythmical massage therapy is used in 24 countries but has not yet been studied in outpatient settings. The objective was to study clinical outcomes in patients receiving rhythmical massage therapy for chronic diseases.

Design: Prospective 4-year cohort study.

Setting: Thirty-six (36) medical practices in Germany.

Participants: Eighty-five (85) outpatients referred to rhythmical massage therapy.

Outcome measures: Disease and Symptom Scores (physicians' and patients' assessment, respectively, 0-10) and SF-36. Disease Score was measured after 6 and 12 months, and other outcomes after 3, 6, 12, 18, 24, and 48 months.

Results: Most common indications were musculoskeletal diseases (45% of patients; primarily back and neck pain) and mental disorders (18%, primarily depression and fatigue). Median disease duration at baseline was 2.0 years (interquartile range 0.5-6.0). Median number of rhythmical massage therapy sessions was 12 (interquartile range 9-12), and median therapy duration was 84 (49-119) days. All outcomes improved significantly between baseline and all subsequent follow-ups. From baseline to 12 months, Disease Score improved from (mean +/- standard deviation) 6.30 +/- 2.01 to 2.77 +/- 1.97 (p < 0.001), Symptom Score improved from 5.76 +/- 1.81 to 3.13 +/- 2.20 (p < 0.001), SF-36 Physical Component score improved from 39.55 +/- 9.91 to 45.17 +/- 9.88 (p < 0.001), and SF-36 Mental Component score improved from 39.27 +/- 13.61 to 43.78 +/- 12.32 (p = 0.028). All these improvements were maintained until the last follow-up. Adverse reactions to rhythmical massage therapy occurred in 4 (5%) patients; 2 patients stopped therapy because of adverse reactions.

Conclusions: Patients receiving rhythmical massage therapy had long-term reduction of chronic disease symptoms and improvement of quality of life.'

Harald J Hamre 1, Claudia M Witt, Anja Glockmann, Renatus Ziegler, Stefan N Willich, Helmut Kiene


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