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Healing Touch for Older Adults With Persistent Pain

Wardell, Diane Wind PhD, RN, WHNP-BC; Decker, Sheila A. PhD, RN, GNP; Engebretson, Joan C. DrPH, RN

doi: 10.1097/HNP.0b013e318258528d
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The purpose of this report was to provide an in-depth review of responses from older adults residing in long-term care facilities receiving Healing Touch (HT) for pain management. Persistent pain is common in this population and, while the mainstay for pain management is analgesics, HT may provide supportive therapy. Twenty older adults from 5 facilities in the southwestern United States participated in the study, with 12 receiving the active intervention of HT and 8 receiving the control of presence care. A convergent mixed-methods approach was used in this secondary report, using the providers' descriptions of 84 HT sessions and quantitative findings to provide an in-depth within-case analysis. Outcome measures included quantitative measures of pain, daily living, and quality of life, as well as qualitative descriptors of the HT sessions. The findings suggest that the experience is highly varied and on a continuum from no perceived or noticeable benefit to a decrease in pain and improvement in other physiological and psychosocial symptoms. Therefore, HT may be beneficial for some older adults within long-term care facilities as an adjunct for chronic pain.

School of Nursing, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Houston.

Correspondence: Diane Wind Wardell, PhD, RN, WHNP-BC, School of Nursing, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, 6901 Bertner Ave, Houston, TX 77030 (diane.wardell@uth.tmc.edu).

This study was funded by a grant from the Partners, School of Nursing, The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The authors thank the CHTPs Margaret Harle, Cynthia Riley, and Donna Fink and the nursing students who provided the presence care.

No competing financial interests exist for the authors.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.