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SAGE Palliative Medicine & Chronic Care

Jan 6, 2020

This episode features Dr Bridget Candy and Dr Megan Armstrong (Marie Curie Palliative Care Research Department, Division of Psychiatry, University College London, London, UK). Aromatherapy, massage and reflexology are widely used in palliative care. Patients themselves often report that these therapies are helpful. It is important to demonstrate value for money in health care service provision including in palliative care. This is the first systematic review to focus on aromatherapy, massage and reflexology in palliative care and to synthesise the evidence using established systematic review methodology. Low-quality trials, and differences in the nature of the comparison arms and in the type of evaluation between trials made it difficult to draw any firm conclusions about the effectiveness of these therapies. Although there was limited evidence on the effectiveness of aromatherapy, massage and reflexology equally no evidence of harm was reported. Heterogeneity across the body of trials suggests the need for theoretical research to understand more clearly how complementary therapies are delivered in palliative care and the best way to measure any purported benefits.