Written by Helen Cooke and the CAM-Cancer Consortium.
Updated January 20, 2017

Therapeutic Touch

Abstract and key points

  • Therapeutic touch is a type of energy healing technique.
  • There is currently no strong evidence that Therapeutic Touch is an effective supportive cancer care modality.
  • There are no known safety concerns.
  • Based on the limited number of trials, it is not possible to draw conclusions about the effectiveness of Therapeutic Touch for people with cancer.

Therapeutic Touch is a type of hand-mediated “energy healing” technique.

Although results from two randomized controlled trials and one small preliminary trial suggest that therapeutic touch may have positive effects on pain and fatigue there is currently no strong evidence that it is an effective modality for supportive cancer care. Only few trials per outcome are available and all trials have methodological limitations. One trial of therapeutic touch for chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting suggest non-specific effects while one case-control study reports no positive effects on radiotherapy-induced dermatitis. 

No serious safety concerns are known.

Citation Helen Cooke, CAM-Cancer Consortium. Therapeutic Touch [online document]. http://ws.cam-cancer.org/The-Summaries/Mind-body-interventions/Therapeutic-Touch. January 20, 2017.

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