Nausea relief and purposeful touch: Decreasing distress by altering the perceptual field
This study explored nausea levels after purposeful touch (PT) in patients who presented to an emergency center (EC). PT is a commonly used nursing intervention that can provide comfort in times of distress. Patient responses to distress were decreased by the sensation of touch applied to a sensory pathway that communicates within the same neuronal pool. PT decreased nausea by altering the perceptual field through stimulating somatosensory peripheral areas that alter one or more of the nausea pathways. An experimental two-group before-after design was used to determine the effects of PT or no PT on the level of nausea of EC patients. The experimental group received PT while the control group did not. The study sample included 140 patients randomly assigned to either group based on order of presentation to the EC. The instruments used for data collection included a Demographic Data Tool and a 100-mm visual analog nausea scale (VANS). The patients in the experimental group received a 5-second bimanual touch to the dominant hand and shoulder of the patient. The study groups were compared based on demographics and findings. Frequencies and percentages were performed on the variables of age, gender, ethnic origin, reason for EC visit, reactions to nausea, and history of nausea. The analysis of covariance (ANCOVA) was used to analyze pretouch as the covariate and experimental/control group data as recorded by each participant on the VANS. Mean nausea intensity score among EC patients receiving PT to alter their perceptual field was found to be significantly lower than the mean nausea intensity score among the EC patients not receiving PT to alter their perceptual field (ANCOVA, F = 27.22, df = 1,139, p < 0.0005). These data supported the use of PT as an effective nursing intervention to decrease nausea in EC patients with the common complaints of gastrointestinal distress, pain, and headache.