I am about to enter into a nursing program and so have been taking an introductory course on it.  For this course we had to attend presentations made by senior nursing majors that were essentially designs for research projects based on peer-reviewed articles but not actually carrying the research out in the real world.  This is the senior project and it places an emphasis on "evidence-based practice," which has been important in elevating nursing as a profession.

While looking at these presentations, I decided to go over to the one that talked about Therapeutic Touch (TT).  I thought at first that it was talking about the effects of a hands on approach to nursing that was examining the effects of touch on patients.

Nope.  It was actually about TT as a way to manipulate some sort of energy field that somehow extends beyond the human body yet isn't one of the fundamental physical forces or anything else that is recognized by science.  I held my tongue since his evaluator was listening at the time and the presenter noted that the evaluator knew all about it.  I was staring at them because it was so odd to see an open display of belief in something with, as far as I know, no evidence to support it (apart from religion).

I remember watching an episode of Penn & Teller Bullshit that dealt with new age medicine and such.  In the episode, they have a girl on who has/had the Guiness world record as the youngest person to have research published in a medical journal.  At age 9 she showed that 21 practitioners of TT did worse than chance at being able to blindly guess whether her hand was over their right or left hand.  They only guessed correctly 4.1/10 times on average.  That happened in '98.  Yet studies continue to be done on the effects of TT while still making the claim that practitioners can sense a universal human energy field or something and then make a patient better by manipulating it.

This seems like a horribly unscientific thing to do for a profession that is trying to back up its practices with evidence-based research.  It's false and gives patients false hope.  If the benefit of it is the placebo effect, then it should be taught in such a way that practitioners know this and understand how to use it without teaching a lie to a patient.  However, it appears that proponents of it are still making miracle claims.

So I suppose I'm nervous that I'm going to have to fight against bullshit like this while learning and while practicing.  I want to be able to call "bullshit" when I see something like this, but I think that it would ruffle to many feathers.

Does anyone here work in nursing (or medicine) and see anything like this?  What are your thoughts on TT or other "alternative" or "new age" "medicines"?  Have you ever dealt with nurses or doctors who insist on wasting your time with these things?

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Well put.  It's important to realize that a practice must have evidence behind it and be shown to work to be considered a legitimate treatment.

Considering that Ms. Rosa showed that the practitioners she found could not do what they were claiming, it definitely calls the whole practice into question

I'm a newly-licensed massage therapist, and I can't tell you how frustrating sitting in class was at times. 

Massage at its core absolutely does/can provide health benefits, depending on what you're using it for (ie pain management, increasing circulation/lymph flow, increasing flexibility, among a slew of other things), and I'm relieved that more clinical research is coming out that supports this. But along with the training in physical tissue manipulation I also had to hear about shit like "energy work" and Reflexology, and they were often presented side-by-side, like they were equally as valid. I just had to make myself look at the situation as a hoop I had to jump through to finish school. One of my good friends, who is also an Atheist, went through training to be a yoga instructor, and she had a very similar experience, except it sounded like hers involved religious theory on top of some pseudo-science. Now that I'm done I can practice legitimate massage the way that I choose to, the same way some massage therapists specifically stick to energy work. To that I say practice away, because your clients will be coming to me when they realize your polarity work doesn't do shit to help their hip or back pain.   

In the mean time, if a client in a spa setting specifically asks me to perform Reflexology as part of a massage session, I know how to do it, so I do. Obviously if they ask me what I recommend I'd say "well not THAT", but I figure if they're dumb enough to drop another $45 for me to poke their feet for 30 minutes, then that's their business.

and Strega, EXACTLY. Lol

Stephy - I agree that massage therapy is a good, and even legitimate field, until someone begins making magical claims for it.

And I highly respect you for your choice of occupations - there are some people I wouldn't want to touch with a ten-foot Pole, or a nine-foot Hungarian.

Lol thanks!

And I absolutely agree - magic belongs in a circus, not the health care industry.

For some people, their eyes glaze over talking about the 'science' of something, and are all ears about crazy crap!

I am beginning to think, having given more time to fools just to be kind, that they are really wasting vast time, energy, and economic resources. They are using the ignorance and gallability of the 'patients' to make a sale! Promise the 'patient' colorful claims and wild magical results, and the 'victim' eats it up having given up their minds to fake authorities or experts.

Years ago I worked as a volunteer the the local hot springs, during a two week period winter 1988. During that time they held a 4 day retreat for massage therapists. During a great vege lunch, I had a talk with some of these people that compaired notes. I mentioned that I love massage, because being fondled was rather nice! I was just being funny at the time,but most people at the table thought that was about right! Human touch is way under rated! What better reason to structure time, but have a great start for a nice day!

For what its worth!  

Here! Here!

For several months I have been taking in an 'RT' energy therapy that seems to work very well to get a a 2.5 hour nap, while someone pretends to pray over me. I win-win, it seemed. Sadly, listening to the constant sales pitch for other types of therapy/intervention did get very old, and finally I called it quiets!

My head did seem clearer after the 'therapy', but the other stuff seemed to plug-up my cognitive wet-drive!   

My head did seem clearer after the 'therapy', but the other stuff seemed to plug-up my cognitive wet-drive!   

Haha, nice.

How much did you end up paying for the sessions, if you don't mind my asking?

They were 'free', but my cost was always listening to her claims that the founder of the RT method was an ET/human hybrid that was an engineer. Sadly, I have known my share of 'engineers' that think they are equally capable to any area of 'knowledge', the fellow that made some of the last claims for the 'end of the earth' as an example.

While I do wish I could offer my deep insights into culture and the future, I still feel that perfect knowledge is mostly given to fools.

As an imperfect 'fool', wisdom still yields some insights into my own cognition, sadly a modest wisdom is not widely spread....  

If it's a treatment for patients, why doesn't it have to undergo clinical trials just like any other treatment? 

If it's real, then run double blind trials. Run clinical studies. Submit it to peer reviewed journals. 

But seriously. If it's a medical procedure, it has to meet standards of medical testing. If you don't know what you're manipulating, you don't know if you're manipulating it wrong. 

Can you imagine getting sued for malpractice for aura mishandling, or whatever? 

My brain is burning. It HURTS.

On that note, I'm going to go there. 

My dog requires human touch to be healthy and happy. 

Lots of social animals require social grooming. They suffer physical consequences if they don't receive it. 

I'll go out there and say, ok. Maybe there is something we don't fully understand about physical touch. There is a lot of the known universe we can't observe with current technology. So fine. I'm listening. Give me some evidence. 

If not, then suggest your patients get a light massage or have their hair washed or.. something. But if it's touch for the sake of compassion and companionship,  don't put a price-tag on it like it's physical therapy. 

In the eighties , a so called "psychic" had a brain CT performed at Temple University Hospital . She later claimed the scan caused the loss of her psychic abilities , and successfully sued the hospital , and was awarded $600,000 ( Haimes v. Temple University Hospital 1986 ).

To quote Doctor Detroit, "This is an outrage!"

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