A Comparison of Massage Effects on Labor Pain Using the McGill Pain Questionnaire

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The purpose of this study was to describe the characteristics of pain during labor with and without massage. Sixty primiparas in labor were randomly assigned to either a massage or control group and tested using the self-reported Short-Form McGill Pain Questionnaire (SF-MPQ) at 3 phases of cervical dilation: phase 1 dilation (3-4 cm), phase 2 dilation (5-7 cm), and phase 3 dilation (8-10 cm). The massage group received standard nursing care and massage intervention, whereas the control group received standard nursing care only. The results of this study showed: (1) In both groups, as cervical dilation increased, there were significant increases in pain intensity as measured by SF-MPQ; (2) massage lessened pain intensity at phase 1 and phase 2, but there were no significant differences between the groups at phase 3; (3) the most frequently selected five sensory words chosen by both groups were similar at phases 1 and 2-(a) sore, (b) sharp, (c) heavy, (d) throbbing, and (e) cramping, while of the 4 affective classes, “fearful” and “tiring-exhausting” were the most used by participants to describe the affective dimension. The results of this study indicate that, although massage cannot change the characteristics of pain experienced by women in labor, it can effectively decrease labor pain intensity at phase 1 and phase 2 of cervical dilation during labor. Nurses and caregivers could consider using massage to help laboring women through the labor pain.

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