Healing touch uses gentle, intentional touch that contributes to balanced physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being.

How do experts use healing touch?

Medical groups provide recommendations for healing touch in treating people with cancer. Learn more about the approaches and meanings of recommendations.

Clinical practice guidelines

Paste any text in the appropriate guidelines below and delete those that don’t apply and this sentence.

Society for Integrative Oncology

Two guidelines provide recommendations regarding use of healing touch.

Evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology: complementary therapies and botanicals ›

These 2009 evidence-based clinical practice guidelines for integrative oncology conclude that therapies based on a philosophy of bioenergy fields are safe and may provide some benefit for reducing stress and enhancing quality of life. Guidelines give a strong recommendation for these therapies, which include healing touch, reiki, Therapeutic Touch® and polarity therapy, for these uses:

  • For reducing anxiety: grade 1B (strong recommendation, moderate-quality evidence)
  • For pain, fatigue, and other symptom management: grade 1C (strong recommendation, low or very low quality evidence)

Clinical practice guidelines on the evidence-based use of integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment › This set of guidelines has been endorsed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO)1Lyman GH, Greenlee H et al. Integrative therapies during and after breast cancer treatment: ASCO endorsement of the SIO clinical practice guideline. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2018 Sep 1;36(25):2647-2655.

SIO’s 2017 clinical practice guidelines for patients with breast cancer provide these recommendations for energy healing therapies, including healing touch:

  • Can be considered for improving mood disturbance and depressive symptoms (rated Grade C, at least moderate certainty that the net benefit is small)
  • Insufficient evidence to form a clinical recommendation for using healing touch for anxiety/stress reduction or improving quality of life

Resources

Healing Touch Professional Association

This association certifies practitioners and instructors.

Keep reading about healing touch

Authors

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS

Senior Clinical Consultant
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Laura Pole is senior clinical consultant for CancerChoices. Laura is an oncology clinical nurse specialist who has been providing integrative oncology clinical care, navigation, consultation, and education services for over 40 years. She is the co-creator and co-coordinator of the Integrative Oncology Navigation Training at Smith Center for Healing and the Arts in Washington, DC. Laura also manages the “Media Watch Cancer News That You Can Use” listserv for Smith Center/Commonweal. In her role as a palliative care educator and consultant, Laura has served as statewide Respecting Choices Faculty for the Virginia POST (Physician Orders for Scope of Treatment) Collaborative as well as provided statewide professional education on palliative and end-of-life care for the Virginia Association for Hospices and Palliative Care.

For CancerChoices, Laura curates content and research, networks with clinical and organizational partners, brings awareness and education of integrative oncology at professional and patient conferences and programs, and translates research into information relevant to the patient experience as well as clinical practice.

Laura sees her work with CancerChoices as a perfect alignment of all her passions, knowledge and skills in integrative oncology care. She is honored to serve you.

Laura Pole, RN, MSN, OCNS Senior Clinical Consultant

Nancy Hepp, MS

Lead Researcher and Program Manager
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Ms. Hepp is a researcher and communicator who has been writing and editing educational content on varied health topics for more than 20 years. She serves as lead researcher, program manager, and writer for CancerChoices. Her graduate work in research and cognitive psychology, her master’s degree in instructional design, and her certificate in web design have all guided her in writing and presenting information for a wide variety of audiences and uses. Nancy’s service as faculty development coordinator in the Department of Family Medicine at Wright State University also provided experience in medical research, plus insights into medical education and medical care from the professional’s perspective.

Nancy Hepp, MS Lead Researcher and Program Manager

Last update: June 10, 2022

CancerChoices provides information about integrative in cancer care, a patient-centered approach combining the best of conventional care, self care and evidence-informed complementary care in an integrated plan cancer care. We review complementaryin cancer care, complementary care involves the use of therapies intended to enhance or add to standard conventional treatments; examples include supplements, mind-body approaches such as yoga or psychosocial therapy, and acupuncture therapies and self-care lifestyle actions and behaviors that may impact cancer outcomes; examples include eating health-promoting foods, limiting alcohol, increasing physical activity, and managing stress practices to help patients and professionals explore and integrate the best combination of conventionalthe cancer care offered by conventionally trained physicians and most hospitals; examples are chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy and complementary therapies and practices for each person.

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