Challenging behaviour in people with learning disabilities can be highly disruptive for the person and those who provide them with support. This review set out to evaluate the evidence base for massage therapy, used with people with challenging behaviours to induce relaxation. The review aimed to identify whether massage therapy was effective in reducing the incidence or severity of challenging behaviours.
The literature search found 64 articles, of which only 7 met the review’s inclusion criteria. The studies were evaluated in terms of the number of participants, setting, methodology, intervention pattern, outcome measure of the intervention and major results.
The results of the review suggest that the evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of massage therapy in supporting clinical practice in this area is extremely limited. The majority of the studies were case studies or used large amounts of qualitative data. In addition the studies were small, with small samples which made it very difficult to substantiate the therapeutic effects of massage therapy.
The authors recommend further studies with randomisation or experimental design.
Massage as therapy for persons with intellectual disabilities, a review of the literature, Chan J et al., in Journal of intellectual Disabilities, 15,1, 47-62.