Impact of a Massage Therapy Intervention for Pediatric Palliative Care Patients and Their Family Caregivers

Taelyr Weekly, Beverly Riley, Christopher Wichman, Melissa Tibbits, Meaghann Weaver

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Context: All inpatient children receiving pediatric palliative care consults at a free-standing children’s hospital. Objectives: To explore the impact of massage therapy on pediatric palliative care patients’ symptom burden and medication use pattern, to describe the impact of massage therapy on family caregiver distress, and to report on bedside nursing staff perception of massage therapy for children and their families. Methods: A 1-time point, single-center exploratory study offering 10-minute bedside massage to children receiving palliative care and 10-minute massage to their family caregivers. Results: A total of 135 massages were provided to children and their caregivers. Difference in child Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability scale (FLACC) score was detectable (P <.0001) with the median (interquartile range [IQR]) before FLACC score being 2 (1-3) and after FLACC score being 0 (0-1). Difference in “as-needed” pain medication usage in the 24 hours before and after the massage was detectable (P =.0477). Median difference in family caregiver distress with massage was −3.0 (IQR = 2.0, P <.0001). Bedside nurses (100%) reported massage to be a meaningful way to care for their families and patients. Conclusion: Massage therapy is a potentially meaningful intervention for pediatric palliative care patients with noted impact on symptom burden, benefit to family caregivers, and acceptance by nursing staff.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-167
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Palliative Care
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2019


  • integrative therapy
  • massage
  • massage therapy
  • palliative care
  • pediatric
  • pediatric palliative care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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