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The latest research on Healing Touch to assist geriatric populations with dementia, Alzheimer Disease, and promoting well-being.  More complete information about these studies is available in the Healing Touch International Research Survey. [MORE...]

Healing Touch on Agitation Levels in Dementia.  Kris Wang, MSN, RN, CS, CHTP, HNC, and Carol Hermann, MS, CTRS

This study investigated the effects of Healing Touch on agitation levels in people with dementia in the Prescott Veteran's Administration Medical Center, Special Care Unit. Two Healing Touch interventions, unruffling (magnetic clearing) and modified mind clearance. Significant decreases in the occurrence of agitated behaviors were noted in all intervention subjects. Psychotropic medication use was also noted to have decreased during the intervention phase. Physiologic changes noted upon completion of each session were decreased muscle tension, relaxed breathing and a shift to a more peaceful demeanor. Additionally, participants verbalized the calming effects that the Healing Touch interventions provided them.


The Elder Healer Project: Promoting Health Aging Through "Elder-Healer" Training. Phase 1 Report.  William Collinge, MPH, PhD, Consultants: John Astin, PhD, Diane Wardell, PhD, RNC, Shirley Weaver, PhD. Statistician: Kenneth Fletcher. Research Assistant: Mary Anne Ryan. Research Associate: Orit Shavit. Trainers: Jeanne Colbath, RN, CMS, June Kruger, Suzanne Rietz, Helene Royce-Toland, Adele Merrill, Leslie Wood, Susan Wright.

Funding for the Elder-Healer Project was obtained through the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging. Research in healthy aging has established that interpersonal connectedness and sense of meaningful life are key determinants of well-being in the elderly. This evaluated the feasibility of a novel approach to strengthening interpersonal connectedness and meaningful life in elders living in the community. Called "The Elder-Healer Project", it involved training elders in a standardized, evidence-based regime of touch therapy (Healing Touch) skills commonly used in holistic nursing and hospice care for providing comfort and relaxation to others. The qualitative and quantitative data seem to support the feasibility of using instruction in touch therapy as a means of enhancing quality of life and interpersonal connectedness among the elderly. Participants did use the methods taught. Healing Touch may be an effective assistive strategy for this elderly population to help sustain activity and benefits in the future.


The Elder-Healer Project Qualitative Analysis: Pre and Post Focus Group Findings.  Shirley Weaver, PhD, and William Collinge, MPH, PhD,

Standard focus group methodology was used with seven focus groups in this NIH funded study that involved training elders to provide Healing Touch in their community. The first question was on what forms of support or service to others they found most satisfying. All were actively engaged in both through informal (kindness and generosity) and formal (voluntary) networks. The difficulties or challenges of using touch as a form of support was identified by the themes of reading body language, limitations created by health status, cultural-legal issues, knowing the person, asking, being clear yourself, and building trust.   When asked what interested them most about the project the response was an opportunity to help others, get self-healing, overcome aversion to touching, where it comes from, way to glorify God, be with like minded people and learn something new. The follow-up focus questions were if the program had an effect on them or their relationships. The responses were very positive as it felt good to help others.


Healing for Elders and Institutions.  Claudia Gehlhaart, RN, RCS, CHTP, LMT

This research project involved the use of Healing Touch and Therapeutic Touch with elderly residing in a long-term care setting. The outcomes that were studied were pain, anxiety, pulse and respiration levels pre and post session. The treatment group had 19 subjects with an average age of 81.9 years. The control group included four subjects. All areas that were measured had significant changes to the better. Post treatment pain results also showed a therapeutic effect. The participants reported a difference in their lives with unsolicited comments about how they enjoyed the treatment and the one-on-one care.


The Healing Touch Experience in Elderly Home Care Clients.  Sandy Forsman, RN, MSN, FNP

This study described the experiences of five elderly home care clients who received Healing Touch. They were asked to describe their physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual experiences in response to Healing Touch. The interviews revealed several common themes: a) openness and willingness to try an alternative to traditional Western medical care, b) viewing Healing Touch as complementary to existing medical care, and c) recommendations that others try Healing Touch. The participants reported physical, emotional, mental and spiritual experiences that were favorable and congruent with existing research.

The Effects of Healing Touch on Nursing Home Residents in Later Stages of Alzheimer Disease.  Elizabeth Ostuni, MA, CCC-slp, CHTP and Mary Jo Santo Pietro, Ph.D., CCC-slp

Twelve clients from a long-term care facility with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease were divided into receiving Healing Touch or a control group that received standard care.  Observations were made of 10 behaviors by members of the direct care staff: appetite, sleep, comfort (freedom from pain), orientation, compliance with daily routine, socialization, composure (emotional stability), non-verbal responses, freedom from jargon, and conversational communication. The results indicated improvement in the scores across all 10 behavioral items for the treatment group compared to no improvement in the control group. Average behavior scores for the item "Composure" (freedom from agitation, extreme restlessness, catastrophic outbursts, bouts of uncontrolled weeping, etc.) and physical comfort also improved significantly.

The Effects of Healing Touch on Nursing Home Residents in Later Stages of Alzheimer Disease. Pilot Study.  Elizabeth Ostuni, MA, CCC-slp, CHTP and Mary Jo Santo Pietro, Ph.D., CCC-slp

Healing Touch treatments were administered two times per week for five weeks to five residents of a long term nursing facility whose primary diagnosis was Alzheimer's disease. During this time, and for one week prior, and one week after the treatments, members of the direct care staff rated resident on their behaviors. At the end of the seven weeks, each resident had improved in at least five behavioral areas and deteriorated in at least one behavior or more.
A Descriptive Study of Outcomes with the Use of Healing Touch in Elders and Adults with Chronic Illnesses.  Susan Peck, PhD, RN, CS, CHTP

The purpose of the study was to examine costs of Healing Touch compared to efficacy of treatment, and to determine a protocol by which to prescribe the number and frequency of treatments at a home care/case management agency. Fourteen patients who received Healing Touch and their assigned staff nurses participated in an interview regarding their experience with and perceived benefits from Healing Touch. Patients reported improvement in pain and functional ability. Only a few patients noted problems with sleep or emotional well-being before treatments, but twice the number noted improvement after treatments. Some patients experienced quite severe exacerbations of pain, decreased functional ability, disturbed sleep, emotional stress and other physiologic effects after Healing Touch was abruptly withdrawn by the agency. Examination of costs for complementary therapies revealed a monthly expenditure of $3000 to $5000 total for the 14 participating patients ($215-440 per person)

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