Therapeutic touch therapy for healing acute wounds.

Therapeutic touch is an alternative therapy that is gaining popularity as a wound treatment. Practitioners enter a meditative state and pass their hands above the patient's body to find and correct any imbalances in the patient's 'life energy' or chi. Scientific instruments have been unable to detect this energy. The review found contradictory evidence about the effects of therapeutic touch. Some trials showed a benefit while others suggested that the process slowed the rate of healing. The review concluded that trials do not show therapeutic touch to be beneficial in healing wounds from minor surgery and that the trials are at high risk of bias.

Authors' conclusions: 

There is no robust evidence that TT promotes healing of acute wounds.

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Background: 

Therapeutic Touch (TT) is an alternative therapy that has gained popularity over the past two decades for helping wounds to heal. Practitioners enter a meditative state and pass their hands above the patient's body to find and correct any imbalances in the patient's 'life energy' or chi. Scientific instruments have been unable to detect this energy. The effect of TT on wound healing has been expounded in anecdotal publications.

Objectives: 

To identify and review all relevant data to determine the effects of TT on healing acute wounds.

Search strategy: 

In January 2014, for this fifth update, we searched The Cochrane Wounds Group Specialised Register; The Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) (The Cochrane Library); Ovid MEDLINE; Ovid MEDLINE (In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations); Ovid EMBASE; and EBSCO CINAHL.

Selection criteria: 

All randomised or quasi-randomised controlled trials, which compared the effect of TT with a placebo, another treatment, or no treatment control were considered. Studies which used TT as a stand-alone treatment, or as an adjunct to other therapies, were eligible.

Data collection and analysis: 

One author (DO'M) determined the eligibility for inclusion of all trials in the review. Both authors conducted data extraction and evaluation of trial validity independently. Each trial was assessed using predetermined criteria.

Main results: 

No new trials were identified for this update. Four trials in people with experimental wounds were included. The effect of TT on wound healing in these studies was variable. Two trials (n = 44 & 24) demonstrated a significant increase in healing associated with TT, while one trial found significantly worse healing after TT and the other found no significant difference. All trials are at high risk of bias.