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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Graduate Nursing

First Advisor

Dianna Sorenson


hypertension treatment, massage therapy


Hypertension, being one of the most pervasive disease processes in the United States, can lead to end organ damage. Though there is no one cause of primary hypertension, the theory of an unchecked long-term stress response continues to be a valid argument. Conversely, eliciting the "relaxation response" has been claimed to alter the course of the unchecked stress response. Massage therapists have suggested that their therapy elicits the relaxation response and therefore can decrease blood pressure and hypertension. Nursing, using the back rub, has also investigated the eliciting of the relaxation response with inconclusive results regarding decreases in blood pressure. The purpose of this study was to conclusively determine the effects of a regularly applied 10 minute back massage on subjects with clinically diagnosed hypertension. In this experimental, pre-test- post-test control group study, a 10-minute back rub was applied to subjects (n = 8) three times a week for 10 sessions. The control group (n = 6) relaxed in the same environment for 10 minutes three times a week for ten sessions. Both groups achieved the same level of relaxation as measured by decreased heart rate. Both groups experienced similar level of anxiety change as measured by pre-test, post-test STAI. Results of the study showed a decrease in the pre to post blood pressures of the massage group {-11.38 mmHg systolic blood pressure (SBP) and -3.44mmHgdiastoUc blood pressure (DBP)} over the 10-session period. The results for the control showed an increase of both SBP (+6.5 mmHg) and DBP (+5.5 mmHg) over the 10-session period. In this study the author concluded that regular rhythmic massage to the back elicited a decrease in the SBP and DBP among clinically diagnosed hypertensive subjects for at least 48 hours after the massages were discontinued.



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


Copyright © 2002 Christine Olney. All rights reserved