Covering adult patients with a weighted blanket during outpatient delivery of chemotherapy was associated with a reduction in anxiety, according to results of a study published in the Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing.1

Findings from a previously conducted systematic review of studies involving patients with breast cancer showed that receipt of chemotherapy was associated with higher levels of anxiety compared with other cancer treatments.2

In this randomized, controlled study with a crossover design, the use of standard-weight, medical-grade weighted blankets as a source of increased deep touch pressure were evaluated for their ability to reduce anxiety in adult patients with cancer receiving intravenous chemotherapy in the outpatient setting at a large, regional medical center.

Fifty-eight patients with a weight of 45 kg or more were randomly assigned to coverage or no coverage with the weighted blanket during their first infusion visit, and then crossed over to the other arm during their second infusion visit.


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The weighted blanket typically covered the patients from their waist to their feet, and patients were asked to keep it in place for at least 15 minutes; longer use of the blanket was at the discretion of the patient. Levels of anxiety were evaluated using 2 standard anxiety measures: the 10-item, self-reported State-Trait Anxiety Inventory for Adults Form Y-1 (STAI-AD) and the VAS-A, a visual analog scale, at 30 minutes following initial application of the blanket.

Regarding the study design, the researchers noted that patients “were able to remove the weighted blanket if they did not like the sensation it provided, unlike pharmaceutical anxiety interventions whose effects can only decrease with time.”

Results of the study showed similar differences in treatment arms when anxiety level was assessed using either the STAI-AD or the VAS-A, with greater reductions in anxiety level reported for those using the weighted blanket compared with those who were not using the blanket.

Specifically, visits during which the weighted blanket was used were associated with average reductions of 2.15 points and 8.89 points according to the STAI-AD and VAS-A measures, respectively, compared with visits without blanket use.

The researchers concluded that use of a weighted blanket is an effective nonpharmacologic intervention for reducing anxiety in patients during chemotherapy infusions.

Nevertheless, they added that “additional research with a larger sample size is needed to validate the results of the current study.”

References

  1. Vinson J, Powers J, Mosesso K. Weighted blankets: anxiety reduction in adult patients receiving chemotherapy. Clin J Oncol Nurs. 2020;24(4):360-368. doi:10.1188/20.CJON.360-368
  2. Lim CC, Devi MK, Ang E. Anxiety in women with breast cancer undergoing treatment: a systematic review. Int J Evid Based Healthc. 2011;9(3):215-235. doi:10.1111/j.1744-1609.2011.00221.