Therapeutic touch and agitation in individuals with Alzheimer's disease

Pamela Hawranik, Pat Johnston, Judith Deatrich

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal Articlepeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)


Limited effective strategies exist to alleviate or treat disruptive behaviors in people with Alzheimer's disease. Fifty-one residents of a long-term care facility with Alzheimer's disease were randomly assigned to one of three intervention groups. A multiple time series, blinded, experimental design was used to compare the effectiveness of therapeutic touch, simulated therapeutic touch, and usual care on disruptive behavior. Three forms of disruptive behavior comprised the dependent variables: physical aggression, physical nonaggression, and verbal agitation. Physical nonaggressive behaviors decreased significantly in those residents who received therapeutic touch compared with those who received the simulated version and the usual care. No significant differences in physically aggressive and verbally agitated behaviors were observed across the three study groups. The study provided preliminary evidence for the potential for therapeutic touch in dealing with agitated behaviors by people with dementia. Researchers and practitioners must consider a broad array of strategies to deal with these behaviors.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)417-434
Number of pages18
JournalWestern Journal of Nursing Research
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun. 2008


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Complementary therapies
  • Nonpharmacological interventions
  • Therapeutic touch


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