Manualization is considered to be an integral methodologic component for rigorous research on complementary and alternative therapies. Clinical trial design of manual therapies may be especially challenging since techniques are often individualized and practitioner-dependent.
Here we describe our methodology in creating a standardized and reproducible massage intervention tailored to subjects with osteoarthritis of the knee while respectful of the individualized nature of massage therapy.
The manualized protocol specifies the body regions to be addressed, with distinct 30 and 60-minute protocols, as well as the standard Swedish strokes to be used (effleurage, petrissage, tapotement, vibration, friction, and skin rolling).
The resulting massage protocol was made reproducible, using standard massage techniques, as well as being flexible for individual subject variability. Aside from being reproducible this manualized Swedish massage protocol has successfully been used in a dual-site dose-finding clinical trial.