Bronze-level articleTherapeutic touch

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Therapeutic touch is a type of "healing" not uncommonly taught at nursing schools. Like faith healing, prayer, and other non-traditional healing methods, it relies on hypotheses that have no scientific basis and are easily disproved.a Also, like other "alternative" medical techniques, practitioners are unregulated and not required to prove the efficacy or safety of their techniques.


[edit] History

Various types of healing-at-a-distance have been used for many, endless millennia. Such theories as "mesmerism" and "animal magnetism" have existed for over a century, and are completely discredited. Therapeutic Touch was popularized in the early 1970s as an outgrowth of aura-theory, ESP, and other New Age ideas. The current ideas of TT were developed by Dolores Krieger, Ph.D., R.N., of N.Y.U.'s Division of Nursing[1] and by Dora Kunz, of the American Theosophical Society.[2] Since it is taught in many mainstream nursing schools, it has undergone a special level of scrutiny, rather than being dismissed out of hand.

[edit] Hypotheses

Therapeutic touch in action

The "theory" of TT purports that certain "sensitive" individuals have the ability to sense other individuals' "Body Energy Field". These people, whose talent can be groomed, have the ability to transfer their own energy to the patient via TT interactions, thereby giving them the strength to heal. According to the Nurse Healers Professional Therapeutic Touch Manual "people with psychiatric disorders, the elderly and/or debilitated are more sensitive to the interaction."[3]

[edit] Efficacy

Despite the utter scientific implausibility of TT, it has been formally studied. The most famous study to date was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.[4] This study failed to show any ability to detect "human energy fields", the proclaimed prerequisite to TT. There was significant backlash among "practitioners",[5][6] none of whom offered up refuting evidence in support of therapeutic touch.[7] It is notable downright fucking impressive that the lead investigator on this study, Emily Rosa[8], was nine years old at the time. She holds a Guinness World Record for being the youngest individual to be published in a professional medical journal, and was featured on an episode of Penn & Teller's Bullshit!.

Studies have also been published in Lancet[9] and other reputable medical journals.

Despite all this (or maybe because of it, woo advocates being what they are), the Pumpkin Hollow Retreat Center (which also seems to be connected to Theosophy in some way) both funds and promotes TT. Not only did this get them a 2013 Pigasus Award from the James Randi Educational Foundation,[10] but it also got them an additional booby prize in the form of a recent One Million Dollar Challenge for the claims they made concerning its medical efficacy.[11]

[edit] Summary

Therapeutic touch is another in a long line of "bunk" medical treatments that sound too good to be true. It carries just enough of an air of plausibility to fool many lay-people, and has vocal supporters. These supporters attack those who call into question their "science". They have been successful at inserting their ideas into mainstream nursing colleges. Based on this fact alone, the need for improved rigor in scientific nursing education is clear, so that compassionate nurses do not waste their patients' time and money with "patent cures".

[edit] External links

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  4. L. Rosa, E. Rosa, L. Sarner and S. Barrett, A close look at therapeutic touch. JAMA 279 (1998), pp. 1004–1010. Conclusions.— Twenty-one experienced TT practitioners were unable to detect the investigator's "energy field." Their failure to substantiate TT's most fundamental claim is unrefuted evidence that the claims of TT are groundless and that further professional use is unjustified.
  6. Tall FD. A close look at "A close look at therapeutic touch". [Review] [17 refs] [Journal Article. Review] Nursing Outlook. 51(3):126-9, 2003 May-Jun
  7. Mentgen JL. Healing touch. [Review] [21 refs] [Journal Article. Review] Nursing Clinics of North America. 36(1):143-58, 2001 Mar. This article explores how nurses can use energetic principles and Healing Touch to enhance the healing of their patients, for their own personal healing and growth, for improving job satisfaction, and for identifying educational resources available for more intense study
  8. Emily RosaWikipedia's W.svg on Wikipedia
  9. Krucoff MW. Crater SW. Gallup D. Blankenship JC. Cuffe M. Guarneri M. Krieger RA. Kshettry VR. Morris K. Oz M. Pichard A. Sketch MH Jr. Koenig HG. Mark D. Lee KL. Music, imagery, touch, and prayer as adjuncts to interventional cardiac care: the Monitoring and Actualisation of Noetic Trainings (MANTRA) II randomised study.[see comment]. [Clinical Trial. Journal Article. Multicenter Study. Randomized Controlled Trial. Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't] Lancet. 366(9481):211-7, 2005 Jul 16-22. The primary study endpoint in this 2×2 randomized controlled trial was a composite of in-hospital major cardiovascular events, death, or readmission within the next 6 months. Neither prayer nor music, imagery, or touch produced any effect on this outcome.
  10. JREF's Pigasus Awards “Honors” Dubious Peddlers of “Woo”, JREF web site
  11. JREF and PhACT Issue Challenge to "Therapeutic Touch" Practitioners, JREF web site
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