Disclosures There are no conflicts of interest to declare.
Massage therapy for the treatment of depression: a systematic review
Article first published online: 11 DEC 2007
International Journal of Clinical Practice
Volume 62, Issue 2, pages 325–333, February 2008
How to Cite
Coelho, H. F., Boddy, K. and Ernst, E. (2008), Massage therapy for the treatment of depression: a systematic review. International Journal of Clinical Practice, 62: 325–333. doi: 10.1111/j.1742-1241.2007.01553.x
- Issue published online: 11 DEC 2007
- Article first published online: 11 DEC 2007
- Paper received June 2007, accepted August 2007
Background: People with depressive disorders or subsyndromal symptoms of depression (SSD) often use complementary and alternative therapies, including massage therapy (MT). This systematic review evaluates the evidence, from randomised clinical trials (RCTs), for the effectiveness of multiple sessions of classical European (Swedish) MT for the treatment of depression.
Methods: Eligible RCTs were identified via eight electronic databases and manual searches of references. Two reviewers independently selected trials, assessed trial quality and extracted data.
Results: Four RCTs met our inclusion criteria. Three of these RCTs compared MT with relaxation therapies, but provided insufficient data and analyses to contribute meaningfully to the evaluation of MT for depression. The fourth included RCT used MT as a control condition to evaluate a depression-specific acupuncture treatment. This trial provided limited evidence that, in the early stages of treatment, MT is less effective than acupuncture for treating depression, a treatment which itself is not accepted for this condition.
Conclusions: Despite previous research suggesting that MT may be an effective treatment for depression, there is currently a lack of evidence to support this assertion from RCTs that have selected participants for depression or SSD.