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October 2021

Cancer Prev Control. 1998 Feb; 2(1): 7-14.

Critical review of 5 nonpharmacologic strategies for managing cancer pain.

Sellick SM, Zaza C.

Northwestern Ontario Regional Cancer Centre, Thunder Bay. [email protected]

PURPOSE: Health care professionals at 2 Ontario cancer centres were surveyed to determine their familiarity with, perceptions of and interest in learning more about nonpharmacologic strategies for the management of cancer pain. Evidence-based education sessions were subsequently developed for the 5 strategies in which participants were most interested. This article presents the results of critical literature reviews concerning the effectiveness of the 5 strategies: acupuncture, massage therapy, hypnosis, therapeutic touch and biofeedback. METHODS: The databases MEDLINE (1966 to June 1997), CINAHL (1982 to June 1997) and PsychoINFO Lit (1980 to June 1997) were searched systematically for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of the 5 nonpharmacologic strategies. The authors' personal files and reference lists of relevant papers and main texts were also searched. The quality of the trials was reviewed according to established criteria. RESULTS: The search yielded 1 RCT of acupuncture, 1 of massage therapy and 6 of hypnosis. The studies of hypnosis suggested that there is much support for its use in the management of cancer pain. The evidence was either lacking or less clear for the other therapies examined. CONCLUSION: Because patients use a wide variety of nonpharmacologic strategies regardless of their effectiveness, clinicians need to be familiar with available research and able to discuss those strategies for which the evidence is strong, weak or nonexistent. More research on the effectiveness of nonpharmacologic strategies for pain management is needed.

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