Palliat Support Care. 2008 Jun;6(2):141-8.

A one-day education in soft tissue massage: experiences and opinions as evaluated by nursing staff in palliative care


Increasing awareness of well-being aspects of physical touch has spurred the appreciation for soft tissue massage (STM) as part of palliative care. Educational programs are available but with no specific focus on utilization for this kind of care. The aim was to study the feasibility of a 1-day course in STM in clarifying nursing staff's experiences and opinions, but also to shed light on their motivation and ability to employ STM in the care of dying cancer patients.


In all, 135 nursing staff participated. The course consisted of theory and hands-on training (hand-foot-, back massage). Focus-groups with 30/135 randomly chosen participants were conducted 4 weeks after the intervention. This study engaged a qualitative approach using content analysis.


The overall opinion of the 1-day course was positive. The majority experienced the contents of the course to be adequate and sufficient for clinical care. They emphasized the pedagogical expertise as valuable for the learning process. The majority of nurses shared the opinion that their extended knowledge clarified their attitudes on STM as a complement in palliative care. Still, a few found it to be too basic and/or intimate. Three categories emerged during the analysis: experiences of and attitudes toward the education, experiences of implementing the skills in every-day care situations, and attitudes to the physical body in nursing care.


The approach to learning and the pedagogical skills of the teacher proved to be of importance for how new knowledge was perceived among nurses. The findings may encourage hospital organizations to introduce short courses in STM as an alternative to more extensive education.

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