3Health and Rehabilitation Sciences Research, Institute and School of Health Sciences, School of Health, University of Ulster, UK.
Doreen McClurg, Nursing, Midwifery and Allied Health Professions Research Unit, Buchanan House, Cowcaddens Road, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, G4 0BA, UK Email: Doreen.firstname.lastname@example.org
Background: Constipation affects many people with multiple sclerosis (MS), negatively impacting on their quality of life. The use of abdominal massage has been reported in several populations and has been shown to increase the frequency of defaecation.
Objective: The objective of this study was to determine the feasibility of undertaking abdominal massage in people with MS.
Methods: Following ethical approval, 30 patients with MS and constipation were recruited. After providing informed written consent and completion of baseline outcome measures, participants were randomly allocated to a massage group or a control group. The massage group participants were provided with advice on bowel management, and they or their carers were taught how to deliver abdominal massage and were recommended to perform it daily during the 4-week intervention period. The control group received bowel management advice only. Outcomes were measured pre (Week 0) and post treatment (Week 4), and at Week 8 and included: the Constipation Scoring System (CSS) (primary outcome), the Neurogenic Bowel Dysfunction Score, and a bowel diary.
Results: Both groups demonstrated a decrease in CSS score from Week 0 to Week 4, indicating an improvement in constipation symptoms; however, the massage group improved significantly more than the control groups (mean difference between groups in score change −5.0 (SD 1.5), 95% CI −8.1, −1.8; t = −3.28, df = 28, p = 0.003).
Conclusion: The results of this small study suggest a positive effect of the intervention on the symptoms of constipation, and support the feasibility of a substantive trial of abdominal massage for the alleviation of the symptoms of constipation in people with MS.