The Effects of Slow-Stroke Back Massage on Minutes of Nighttime Sleep in Persons With Dementia and Sleep Disturbances in the Nursing Home: A Pilot Study

Melodee Harris, Kathy Culpepper Richards, Victoria T. Grando

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

15 Scopus citations


Purpose: This pilot study tested the effects of a 3-minute slow-stroke back massage (SSBM) on total minutes of nighttime sleep on persons with dementia with sleep disturbances aged 65 years or older in the nursing home. Design: Pilot randomized controlled trial. Methods: Participants were randomized to an intervention group (n = 20) who received the 3-minute SSBM or a usual care control condition group (n = 20) who received usual bedtime care. Forty-eight hours of actigraphy data was recorded and analyzed on sleep variables at baseline and postintervention. Findings: Descriptive statistics showed a 36-minute increase on minutes of nighttime sleep in the SSBM intervention group (46.1 minutes) compared with the control group (10.32 minutes). Analysis of covariance did not reveal significant differences between the intervention and control groups on minutes of nighttime sleep, F(1, 37) = 1.90, p =.18, partial η2 =.05, or on other sleep variables. Conclusions: Dose-finding studies are needed to determine the duration of SSBM for sleep promotion. Findings from this pilot study suggest that SSBM may be an effective nursing intervention for sleep in persons with dementia in the nursing home, but further testing is needed to provide definitive results.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)255-263
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Holistic Nursing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012



  • dementia
  • nursing home
  • sleep
  • slow-stroke back massage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing (miscellaneous)

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