The outcome of tactile touch on oxytocin in intensive care patients: a randomised controlled trial.
Author(s): Henricson M, Berglund AL, Maatta S, Ekman R, Segesten K
Affiliation(s): University College of Boras, School of Health Sciences, Sweden. email@example.com
Publication date & source: 2008-10, J Clin Nurs., 17(19):2624-33.
Publication type: Randomized Controlled Trial; Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
AIM: To explore the effects of five-day tactile touch intervention on oxytocin in intensive care patients. The hypotheses were that tactile touch increases the levels of oxytocin after intervention and over a six-day period. BACKGROUND: Research on both humans and animals shows a correlation between touch and increased levels of oxytocin which inspired us to measure the levels of oxytocin in arterial blood to obtain information about the physiological effect of tactile touch. DESIGN: Randomised controlled trial. METHOD: Forty-four patients from two general intensive care units, were randomly assigned to either tactile touch (n = 21) or standard treatment--an hour of rest (n = 23). Arterial blood was drawn for measurement of oxytocin, before and after both treatments. RESULTS: No significant mean changes in oxytocin levels were found from day 1 to day 6 in the intervention group (mean -3.0 pM, SD 16.8). In the control group, there was a significant (p = 0.01) decrease in oxytocin levels from day 1 to day 6, mean 26.4 pM (SD 74.1). There were no significant differences in changes between day 1 and day 6 when comparing the intervention group and control group, mean 23.4 pM (95% CI -20.2-67.0). CONCLUSION: Our hypothesis that tactile touch increases the levels of oxytocin in patients at intensive care units was not confirmed. An interesting observation was the decrease levels of oxytocin over the six-day period in the control group, which was not observed in the intervention group. RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Tactile touch seemed to reduce the activity of the sympathetic nervous system. Further and larger studies are needed in intensive care units to confirm/evaluate tactile touch as a complementary caring act for critically ill patients.