Date of Award


Degree Type

Selective Evidence-Based Medicine Review

Degree Name

Master of Science in Health Sciences - Physician Assistant


Physician Assistant Studies


OBJECTIVE: The objective of this selective EBM review is to determine whether massage therapy is an effective intervention in reducing pain in intrapartum women.

STUDY DESIGN: A systematic review of two randomized controlled trails (RCTs) and one case study published between 2009-2019. All studies were published in English.

DATA SOURCES: The two double-blind RCTs and case study were found via PubMed. All sources were published in peer reviewed journals and chosen based on their relevance to the clinical question.

OUTCOMES: Pain reduction was the outcome measured in all three studies using visual analog scale. In this systematic review, pain level was evaluated as change from baseline.

RESULTS: In the double-blind RCT conducted by Gallo, there was a statistically significant reduction in pain at -17mm with massage therapy. In the quasi-experimental study viewed as a case study conducted by Hajiamini, ice massage was found to reduce pain from baseline by 1.74cm and 1.57cm at zero and thirty minutes, respectively, with a p-value <0.05. However, pain reduction was not found to be statistically significant at sixty minutes after intervention. Lastly, in a double-blind RCT by Taghinejad, the massage therapy group reported 36.3% less pain than the music therapy group with a p-value <0.001.

CONCLUSIONS: Both a clinical and statistically significant reduction in pain were demonstrated by all three studies. Thus, the results of this review are conclusive in that massage therapy is an effective method in reducing pain in intrapartum women. Furthermore, massage therapy is an inexpensive, informal, and widely available therapeutic method with the added benefit of having no side effects.