Massage & Bodywork

November | December 2014

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50 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k n o v e m b e r / d e c e m b e r 2 0 1 4 SOMATIC RESEARCH education Have you ever read an article that said one thing, just to read another that said the opposite? Although differences in study results are fairly common, they can be frustrating. How can we figure out the bottom line? One approach to better understanding what the research says is to look for review articles. Review articles compile research articles into one big overview of a given topic. Review articles are frequently written by researchers and include the results of many different studies with a discussion about why the results may differ from one study to the next, as well as some commentary on the quality of the original research. In one popular article, Christopher A. Moyer, PhD, and his team reviewed literature to determine if there were consistent findings for a reduction in cortisol after massage therapy. 1 Cortisol is known as the stress hormone, and many therapists and educators believe that massage treatment decreases cortisol levels, thereby also reducing anxiety, depression, and pain. However, the research literature had differing results; some studies demonstrated a decrease in cortisol with massage and other studies found no change. In the review article, Moyer found that while the studies demonstrated an improvement in anxiety, depression, and pain levels with massage, when the data were combined into one overarching analysis, there was no statistically significant change in cortisol levels. This review article helped clarify that perhaps there was another mechanism for feeling better after a massage other than a decrease in cortisol. As you can see, review articles may help answer some questions—but they might raise new questions as well. The beauty of review articles is they give an overview of a topic area so you, the reader, can better understand the state of the evidence for that particular subject. However, not all reviews are the same; some are more rigorous than others. Reviewing the Reviews Research Overviews Are Helpful Ways to Stay Informed By Jerrilyn Cambron

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