↓ Skip to main content

Massage, reflexology and other manual methods for pain management in labour

Overview of attention for article published in Cochrane database of systematic reviews, March 2018
Altmetric Badge

About this Attention Score

  • In the top 5% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (95th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (86th percentile)

Mentioned by

twitter
98 tweeters
facebook
10 Facebook pages

Citations

dimensions_citation
21 Dimensions

Readers on

mendeley
346 Mendeley
You are seeing a free-to-access but limited selection of the activity Altmetric has collected about this research output. Click here to find out more.
Title
Massage, reflexology and other manual methods for pain management in labour
Published in
Cochrane database of systematic reviews, March 2018
DOI 10.1002/14651858.cd009290.pub3
Pubmed ID
Authors

Caroline A Smith, Kate M Levett, Carmel T Collins, Hannah G Dahlen, Carolyn C Ee, Machiko Suganuma

Abstract

Many women would like to avoid pharmacological or invasive methods of pain management in labour, and this may contribute towards the popularity of complementary methods of pain management. This review examined the evidence currently available on manual methods, including massage and reflexology, for pain management in labour. This review is an update of the review first published in 2012. To assess the effect, safety and acceptability of massage, reflexology and other manual methods to manage pain in labour. For this update, we searched Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth's Trials Register (30 June 2017), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL; 2017, Issue 6), MEDLINE (1966 to 30 June 2017, CINAHL (1980 to 30 June 2017), the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry (4 August 2017), Chinese Clinical Trial Registry (4 August 2017), ClinicalTrials.gov, (4 August 2017), the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (4 August 2017), the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP) (4 August 2017) and reference lists of retrieved trials. We included randomised controlled trials comparing manual methods with standard care, other non-pharmacological forms of pain management in labour, no treatment or placebo. We searched for trials of the following modalities: massage, warm packs, thermal manual methods, reflexology, chiropractic, osteopathy, musculo-skeletal manipulation, deep tissue massage, neuro-muscular therapy, shiatsu, tuina, trigger point therapy, myotherapy and zero balancing. We excluded trials for pain management relating to hypnosis, aromatherapy, acupuncture and acupressure; these are included in other Cochrane reviews. Two review authors independently assessed trial quality, extracted data and checked data for accuracy. We contacted trial authors for additional information. We assessed the quality of the evidence using the GRADE approach. We included a total of 14 trials; 10 of these (1055 women) contributed data to meta-analysis. Four trials, involving 274 women, met our inclusion criteria but did not contribute data to the review. Over half the trials had a low risk of bias for random sequence generation and attrition bias. The majority of trials had a high risk of performance bias and detection bias, and an unclear risk of reporting bias. We found no trials examining the effectiveness of reflexology.MassageWe found low-quality evidence that massage provided a greater reduction in pain intensity (measured using self-reported pain scales) than usual care during the first stage of labour (standardised mean difference (SMD) -0.81, 95% confidence interval (CI) -1.06 to -0.56, six trials, 362 women). Two trials reported on pain intensity during the second and third stages of labour, and there was evidence of a reduction in pain scores in favour of massage (SMD -0.98, 95% CI -2.23 to 0.26, 124 women; and SMD -1.03, 95% CI -2.17 to 0.11, 122 women). There was very low-quality evidence showing no clear benefit of massage over usual care for the length of labour (in minutes) (mean difference (MD) 20.64, 95% CI -58.24 to 99.52, six trials, 514 women), and pharmacological pain relief (average risk ratio (RR) 0.81, 95% CI 0.37 to 1.74, four trials, 105 women). There was very low-quality evidence showing no clear benefit of massage for assisted vaginal birth (average RR 0.71, 95% CI 0.44 to 1.13, four trials, 368 women) and caesarean section (RR 0.75, 95% CI 0.51 to 1.09, six trials, 514 women). One trial reported less anxiety during the first stage of labour for women receiving massage (MD -16.27, 95% CI -27.03 to -5.51, 60 women). One trial found an increased sense of control from massage (MD 14.05, 95% CI 3.77 to 24.33, 124 women, low-quality evidence). Two trials examining satisfaction with the childbirth experience reported data on different scales; both found more satisfaction with massage, although the evidence was low quality in one study and very low in the other.Warm packsWe found very low-quality evidence for reduced pain (Visual Analogue Scale/VAS) in the first stage of labour (SMD -0.59, 95% CI -1.18 to -0.00, three trials, 191 women), and the second stage of labour (SMD -1.49, 95% CI -2.85 to -0.13, two trials, 128 women). Very low-quality evidence showed reduced length of labour (minutes) in the warm-pack group (MD -66.15, 95% CI -91.83 to -40.47; two trials; 128 women).Thermal manual methodsOne trial evaluated thermal manual methods versus usual care and found very low-quality evidence of reduced pain intensity during the first phase of labour for women receiving thermal methods (MD -1.44, 95% CI -2.24 to -0.65, one trial, 96 women). There was a reduction in the length of labour (minutes) (MD -78.24, 95% CI -118.75 to -37.73, one trial, 96 women, very low-quality evidence). There was no clear difference for assisted vaginal birth (very low-quality evidence). Results were similar for cold packs versus usual care, and intermittent hot and cold packs versus usual care, for pain intensity, length of labour and assisted vaginal birth.Music One trial that compared manual methods with music found very low-quality evidence of reduced pain intensity during labour in the massage group (RR 0.40, 95% CI 0.18 to 0.89, 101 women). There was no evidence of benefit for reduced use of pharmacological pain relief (RR 0.41, 95% CI 0.16 to 1.08, very low-quality evidence).Of the seven outcomes we assessed using GRADE, only pain intensity was reported in all comparisons. Satisfaction with the childbirth experience, sense of control, and caesarean section were rarely reported in any of the comparisons. Massage, warm pack and thermal manual methods may have a role in reducing pain, reducing length of labour and improving women's sense of control and emotional experience of labour, although the quality of evidence varies from low to very low and few trials reported on the key GRADE outcomes. Few trials reported on safety as an outcome. There is a need for further research to address these outcomes and to examine the effectiveness and efficacy of these manual methods for pain management.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 98 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 346 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
United Kingdom 1 <1%
Spain 1 <1%
South Africa 1 <1%
Unknown 343 99%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Master 60 17%
Student > Bachelor 53 15%
Student > Ph. D. Student 37 11%
Researcher 31 9%
Other 29 8%
Other 70 20%
Unknown 66 19%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Nursing and Health Professions 112 32%
Medicine and Dentistry 87 25%
Psychology 18 5%
Social Sciences 7 2%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 6 2%
Other 35 10%
Unknown 81 23%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 69. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 24 January 2020.
All research outputs
#298,500
of 15,082,829 outputs
Outputs from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
#721
of 11,104 outputs
Outputs of similar age
#11,359
of 278,295 outputs
Outputs of similar age from Cochrane database of systematic reviews
#27
of 195 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 15,082,829 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 98th percentile: it's in the top 5% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 11,104 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 22.8. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 93% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 278,295 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 95% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 195 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 86% of its contemporaries.