Therapeutic Touch in the Management of Responsive Behaviors in Patients with Dementia

Author: Helen Senderovich1,2,3, Sandra Gardner4,5, Anna Berall4, Roslyn Shultz6, Brenda Grant6, Vincent Santaguida7
1 Department of Family and Community Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
2 Division of Palliative Care, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
3 University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
4 Baycrest Kunin-Lunenfeld Centre for Applied Research and Evaluation (KL-CARE), Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
5 Biostatistics Division, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
6 Baycrest SageCare, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
7 University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada.
Conference/Journal: Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord
Date published: 2022 Mar 25
Other: Special Notes: doi: 10.1159/000523752. , Word Count: 259

This study aimed to investigate the use of therapeutic touch (TT) in the management of responsive behaviors in patients with dementia.

A randomized, double-blinded control trial was used to compare response to TT in a population with responsive behaviors in dementia, in 3 phases, pretreatment, treatment, and posttreatment each lasting 5 days. The participants were divided into three groups: experimental, placebo, and control. The experimental group received regular TT, the placebo group received mimic TT, and the control group received regular routine care. Behavior was observed and recorded by trained research assistants every 20 min during the study time throughout each of the phases. Modified Agitated Behavior Rating Scale (ABRS) and Revised Memory and Behavior Check (RMBC) scores were used to assess the behavioral symptoms of dementia throughout the study.

All groups had decreasing RMBC scores during the pretreatment period, however; the experimental TT group was the only group whose RMBC scores continued to decrease during the treatment period. All groups had a similar pattern of rates of change in ABRS scores over the 15-day period, with no differential pattern of results related to experimental TT.

Despite limited evidence, TT should be explored as an adjunctive therapy for reducing behavioral symptoms in individuals with dementia. Further research is needed to determine the effects of TT on responsive behaviors in dementia. There is a need for studies with larger sample sizes, equal distribution of participants between groups (in terms of dementia stages), and longer post study follow-ups.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s therapy; Dementia; Elderly; Responsive behaviors; Therapeutic touch.

PMID: 35340008 DOI: 10.1159/000523752