Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2012

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education PATHOLOGY PERSPECTIVES | BODY AWARENESS | FUNCTIONAL ANATOMY | SOMATIC RESEARCH Writing Systematic Reviews It Takes a Village By Diana L. Thompson I recently attended a workshop on conducting a systematic review (SR) at the Samueli Institute, a nonprofit organization in Alexandria, Virginia, that facilitates research on healing and wellness.1 by the growing body of massage research and lack of conclusive reviews, I wanted to determine if an individual like me, without a background in research, could assess the data and write a definitive SR that would help inform our profession. For the workshop, I was asked to identify an SR topic in advance and come prepared to begin work on the review onsite. I mentally scanned the topics of recent research conference presentations to see what stood out in my mind. Several hospitals have presented on using massage therapy in acute care settings; hospital massage has demonstrated immediate and measureable results, and potentially opens up job opportunities for massage therapists. Conclusive evidence on massage for acute care is critical as we attempt to integrate into hospital and medical clinic settings. Perhaps this would make an interesting SR. I arrived in Virginia with the following goal in mind: to investigate the effectiveness of massage therapy for postoperative care in hospital settings, specifically on pain, function, patient satisfaction, and reduced hospital stays. WHAT IS A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW? An SR is a literature review focused on a research question that tries to identify, appraise, select, and synthesize all high-quality research evidence relevant to that question.2 The goal of an SR is to draw conclusions useful for clinical practice and policy-making, and identify future directions for research.3 tool to assist in improving the care you provide, marketing your practice, and enhancing access to your services. Motivated Most importantly, a sound, conclusive SR is a 58 massage & bodywork september/october 2012

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