Attitudes towards massage modify effects of manual therapy in breast cancer survivors: a randomised clinical trial with crossover design

C Fernández-Lao, I Cantarero-Villanueva, L Díaz-Rodríguez, A I Cuesta-Vargas, C Fernández-Delas-Peñas, M Arroyo-Morales
European Journal of Cancer Care 2012, 21 (2): 233-41
Our aims were to investigate the immediate effect of myofascial release on heart rate variability and mood state, and the influence of attitude towards massage in breast cancer survivors with cancer-related fatigue. Twenty breast cancer survivors reporting moderate to high cancer-related fatigue participated in this crossover study. All patients presented to the laboratory at the same time of the day on two occasions separated by a 2-week interval. At each session, they received either a massage intervention or control intervention. Holter electrocardiogram recordings and Profile of Mood States questionnaire (six domains: tension-anxiety, depression-dejection, anger-hostility, vigour, fatigue, confusion) were obtained before and immediately after each intervention. The attitude towards massage scale was collected before the first session in all breast cancer survivors. The results showed a significant session × time interaction for standard deviation of the normal-to-normal interval (SDNN) (F= 5.063, P= 0.039), square root of mean squared differences of successive normal-to-normal intervals (RMSSD) (F= 8.273, P= 0.010), high-frequency component (HF) (F= 7.571, P= 0.013), but not for index heart rate variability (F= 3.451, P= 0.080), low-frequency component (LF) (F= 0.014, P= 0.997) and ratio LF/HF (F= 3.680, P= 0.072): significant increases in SDNN, RMSSD and HF domain (P < 0.05) were observed after the manual therapy intervention, with no changes after placebo (P > 0.6). No influence of the attitude scale on heart rate variability results was found. A significant session × time interaction was also found for fatigue (F= 5.101, P= 0.036) and disturbance of mood (F= 6.690, P= 0.018) scales of the Profile of Mood States: patients showed a significant decrease in fatigue and disturbance of mood (P < 0.001) after manual therapy, with no changes after placebo (P > 0.50). A significant influence of the attitude scale was observed in tension-anxiety, depression-dejection and anger-hostility scales. This controlled trial suggests that massage leads to an immediate increase of heart rate variability and an improvement in mood in breast cancer survivors with cancer-related fatigue. Further, the positive impact of massage on cancer-related fatigue is modulated by the attitude of the patient towards massage.

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