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Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center Shares in $2.75 Million National Institutes of Health Research Grant

By Lisa Seaberg on 1/20/2012

Four-Year Study of Massage for Osteoarthritis of the Knee to be Conducted with Partners at Duke Integrative Medicine and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey

DERBY, CT (January 20, 2012) - The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has awarded Duke Integrative Medicine and its key research partners at Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) a $2.75 million shared grant to investigate the impact of massage therapy on people with osteoarthritis of the knee. The combined research team will conduct a randomized controlled trial to definitively evaluate an eight-week course of Swedish massage as a treatment for osteoarthritis of the knee in terms of its effects on pain, stiffness, and physical function.

Newly appointed Duke Integrative Medicine Executive Director and Principal Investigator, Dr. Adam Perlman commented, “The team we have established has been working to study the efficacy of massage for this prevalent condition. The support from the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine for our work on osteoarthritis further demonstrates that our health care system faces a professional and economic imperative to identify evidence-based approaches for common conditions that call upon all of the tools and treatments available in modern medicine.”

Perlman and his co-investigators, David Katz, MD, MPH and Ather Ali, ND, MPH of the Yale-Griffin Prevention Research Center and Susan Gould-Fogerite, PhD and Gwen Mahon, PhD from UMDNJ also will gather data to study the cost-effectiveness of massage as a form of treatment. Ultimately, they expect to demonstrate that massage can serve as a valuable option for treating osteoarthritis in clinical settings, which could help set the stage for reimbursement from health insurance companies for this form of treatment.

Katz observed, "We are now several steps into a process of assessing the role of massage in the routine care of osteoarthritis. Our findings to date are very promising, and this study should give us the definitive answers we need to influence the standard of care. We are delighted to receive this award and continue this important work in collaboration with Dr. Perlman and our colleagues."

The new study will recruit more than 200 participants with osteoarthritis of the knee, and will follow each participant over the course of a year. For those who qualify to be part of the study, the treatments will be available at Griffin Hospital in Derby, Connecticut, at the Barnabas Health Ambulatory Care Center in Livingston, New Jersey, and at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. For more information, or to inquire about taking part in this study in Connecticut, please contact the study team by email at massage.oa@gmail.com or by phone at 203-732-1265, ext. 305.