Support Care Cancer. 2009 Jan 28. [Epub ahead of print],

The existential experiences of receiving soft tissue massage in palliative home care-an intervention


Soft tissue massage is currently used in palliative care for the relief of anxiety and pain. Only few studies have focused on patients' deeper experience of receiving the massage. AIM: The purpose of this study was to explore how patients with cancer in palliative home care experienced soft tissue massage.


Twenty-two patients received soft tissue massage (hand or foot) nine times over a period of 2 weeks. Each session lasted for 25 min. Following the last massage session, a qualitative interview was conducted. The analysis was performed using a hermeneutic approach. FINDINGS: Soft tissue massage generated feelings of existential respite with perceptions of being released from illness for a while. Two categories constituted the basis of the experiences: (1) "an experience of thoughtful attention" and (2) "a sensation of complete tranquility" resulting in the overarching theme "A time of existential respite."


The patients experienced the massage to give meaning and to be important as it generated feelings of an inner respite.


Soft tissue massage appears to be an appreciated source of support to dying patients in palliative home care. The method is easy to comprehend and relatively short (25 min) which may imply that it is a suitable complement in nursing care for this patient group.

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