Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) Projects

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Doctor of Nursing Practice

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Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner (PMHNP)

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massage therapy, anxiety, depression, stress, mental health, psychiatry


Karen Kalmakis, PhD, MPH, FNP-BC, FAANP

DNP Project Chair

Karen Kalmakis, PhD, MPH, FNP-BC, FAANP



Background: Massage therapy is a proven method for reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression as evidenced through literature review. However, the practice of complementary and integrative modalities (CIM), such as massage, is uncommon within psychiatric care. This leaves a gap in practice in the psychiatric setting. Purpose: The capstone quality improvement project addressed the identified gap by providing education on massage therapy to mental health providers and clients, and by increasing massage accessibility and use in the outpatient psychiatric setting by providing education on performing self-massage. Methods: The education was provided via pre-recorded video. Clients/providers completed pre and post-assessments addressing beliefs, knowledge, and attitudes regarding massage therapy; its use for symptom management; and the practice of self-massage. Descriptive statistics were used to analyze the pre and post-data to provide average scores and percent change in values. Results: Sixteen clients and three providers participated, with a 50% and 100% return rate, respectively. There was an increase in beliefs, knowledge, and attitudes regarding massage therapy in all areas measured. The most improvement in scores was noted for items assessing client knowledge of massage contraindications (109.5% change), confidence in ability to perform massage (45.5% change), and knowledge of the benefits of massage (42.1% change). Both clients and providers were motivated regarding the use of massage as a treatment modality as indicated by high pre and post-assessment scores for this item. Conclusion: The findings are favorable in terms of effectiveness of provided education, and also align with the prior understanding of positive receptivity to CIM. Further exploration and implementation of themes incorporating CIM into psychiatric treatment are warranted.

Keywords: psychiatry, massage therapy, depression, anxiety, stress, CIM, mental health

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