This is a discussion of the results of a systematic review of 22 articles examining the effect of massage on relaxation, comfort, and sleep. The most consistent effect of massage was reduction in anxiety. Eight of 10 original research studies reported that massage significantly decreased anxiety or perception of tension. Seven of 10 studies found that massage produced physiologic relaxation, as indicated by significant changes in the expected direction in one or more physiologic indicators. In the three studies in which the effect of massage on discomfort was investigated, it was found to be effective in reducing pain. In only three studies was the effect of massage on sleep examined. The methods for measuring sleep were unclear in two of the studies, and results were inconclusive in the other. Further research is needed to investigate the effect of massage on discomfort and promoting sleep.

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