Have you already taken a look at our science library? There are many surprises to be found. When I checked the internet for further shiatsu studies, I have found three research studies done in Iran so far. They have something interesting in common: Relatively large numbers of participants, controlled study design, significant results and conducted under the guidance of a medical university. This is more than remarkable, it took my breath away!

Right now, I try to contact the people involved in these studies. Wouldn’t it be great to getting to know them? I hope we will!

Now, let’s have a look at one of the studies from Iran I have found so far:

The Effect of Shiatsu Massage on Pain Reduction in Burn Patients

  • Fatemeh Mohaddes Ardabili, a Faculty Member in Medical Surgical Group/School of Nursing and Midwifery at Iran University of Medical Sciences and Health Services in Tehran/Iran:
  • Soybeh Purhajari, a MSc Student of Nursing/School of Nursing and Midwifery at Iran University of Medical Sciences in Tehran/Iran;
  • Tahereh Najafi Ghezeljeh, a PhD Assistant Professor at Medical- Surgical Group/School of Nursing and Midwifery at Iran University of Medical Sciences in Tehran/Iran;
  • Hamid Haghani from the Department of Statistic and Mathematics/School of Health Management and Information Sciences at Iran University of Medical Sciences in Tehran/Iran

The study examined how far the intensity of pain can be influenced by shiatsu treatment in regard of burn patients. 120 participants of both gender were randomly divided into 4 group, meaning that a fourth was the control group that underwent no treatment and the other 3 fourth were assigned to “hand massage”, “leg massage” or “hand and leg massage” in the frame of shiatsu method.  The duration of the shiatsu intervention was only 20 minutes. The intensity of pain was evaluated before and after the intervention via the visual analogue scale (VAS).  The control group showed no improvement of pain intensity while the massage groups showed improvements significantly, in particular, the “hand and leg” massage showed to be most effective.

According to the study’s authors, it is quite common to reduce pain in burn patients by the use of narcotic analgesics or tranquilizers. As part of the conclusion of the study, the authors suggest: “According to our data, shiatsu method over both hands and legs were effective in pain reduction and can be recommended together with analgesics to decrease the dose.” [Ardabili et al., 2014]

While reading the short report of this study, I had some questions in mind:

  • What is meant by “hand and leg massage”? Is it just the hands or are the arms meant as well? Do we here have a translation problem or is it meant as it is?
  • What style of shiatsu is used? What intensity of pressure? These two questions do not only regard this study but many others you may find in the science library.
  • Was the peer-review of the publishing journal sufficient? I noticed inconsistencies in regard of the descriptions of significance and regarding the tables as depicted.  It may be partly a translation problem.
  • The pain intensity before the intervention differs slightly between control group and massage groups. Do we here face a placebo effect in regard of the patients’ expectations?

In the last years, I have read several studies about shiatsu worldwide and I have found to ask questions in regard of most of them. One of our goals at the shiatsu research network is to point out onto these questions and to establish task plans for future improvement of studies. It is contemporary normal to find flaws. Shiatsu, a complex method, is just at the beginning to undergo professional study procedures, therefore we have got this problem worldwide and thus we need to exchange knowledge. Iran belongs to the best study providers in this field and it would be an honour to get in touch with Persian researchers and shiatsu practitioners.

And, have you already digged into the other remarkable Iranian studies as well?
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title photo by brainin on Pixabay