Therapeutic touch has been shown to decrease patients anxiety levels and increase their pain tolerance levels when other more mainstream therapies have not been completely effective. "Therapeutic touch is a process by which energy is transmitted from one person to another for the purpose of potentiating the healing process of one who is ill or injured." (Heidt, 1981; Krieger, 1979; Lionberger, 1985; Randolph, 1984; Kramer, 1990). In my capacity as a nursing student on a medical- surgical unit, I have noticed an increase in pain medication requests among patients with incision site pain and a minimal use of alternative therapies for this pain management. With the use of therapeutic touch nurses can regain a closeness with patients and also have a direct effect on their pain level. Therefore the purpose of this study will be to determine if therapeutic touch is an effective intervention for patients experiencing surgical incision site pain within the first forty-eight hours after surgery.
The question posed for study is: "Is therapeutic touch an effective intervention for decreasing a patients surgical site pain within the first forty-eight hours after surgery?". The independent variable is therapeutic touch. The dependent
variable is decreasing surgical site pain. The population
to be studied will be patients on a thirty bed medical-surgical floor of a Lake Charles hospital. Fifty surgical patients will be studied over a four week period. The patients will be randomly selected to avoid any bias by the researcher.
SIGNIFICANCE OF THE PROBLEM
"... therapeutic touch is a nursing intervention that has the potential for eliciting a state of physiological relaxation in patients and for decreasing patients anxiety" (Heidt, 1991). The use of therapeutic touch is very important to the nursing community. The need for immediate intervention in acute or chronic pain could be handled at the bedside with no need to await a doctor's order for pharmacological intervention. Anxiety could be lessened to let patients rest more comfortably in the stressful hospital environment. Also teaching could be enhanced in the less anxious and more pain free client. A client that is admitted to the hospital for surgery may not get all the rest needed for proper recovery and healing due to inadequate pain relief from pharmacologic interventions. The need for more in depth research and application in the field of therapeutic touch as a nursing intervention is essential.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
In preparing to undertake this research, various forms of literature must be examined. In a study done by Nancy Ann Kramer, MSN, RN on therapeutic touch and casual touch stress reduction of hospitalized children (1990), her study supported the use of therapeutic touch. She states "... the intervention of therapeutic touch will more quickly reduce the child's stress and provide comfort for a longer time, which eventually may decrease the hospital stay and decrease nursing work.". The author states that more research may need to be done with a larger sample and a wider range of patient stressors to further support the use of therapeutic touch in a clinical setting. She used a sample of thirty children ages two weeks to two years old.
In the next study, done by Patricia R. Heidt, RN, PhD, "Helping patients to rest: Clinical studies in therapeutic touch"(1991), she studied patients who wanted help with pain relief. Her main reason for this was to increase the "descriptive data on patient care" so further research could be done and therapeutic touch could be applied in nursing interventions. The strength of this study came from its in depth look at two case studies and how the therapeutic touch was used on two specific patients. The case studies gave an in depth look at the patients history and treatment and out...