Holditch-Davis et al.1 (2014)

Matricardi et al.2 (2013)

Oswalt et al.3 (2009)

Wheeden et al.6 (1993)


ATVV vs KC vs Control group

Intervention group (joint observation method, infant massage provided by both parents) vs Standard support group

Massage intervention group


Control group

Massage therapy group


Control group

No of participants

240 infant-mother dyads (ATVV→N = 78,

KC→N = 81 and Control group→N = 81)

42 parent-infant dyads (intervention group→N = 21, standard support group→ N = 21)

25 infant-mother dyads (massage intervention group→ N = 9, control group→N = 16)

30 cocaine-exposed preterm neonates (massage therapy group→N = 15,

control group→N = 15)

Study duration

During hospitalization until 12 months of age

During the first week of life until the 36th week post-menstrual age of the infant

Approximately 2 months and 2-month follow-up measures

10 days (massage therapy was provided for three 15-minute periods for three consecutive hours each day)

Mean age

Mothers: ATVV→26.3 years, KC→28.1 years, Control group→26.6 years

Infants: ATVV→27.0 weeks, KC→27.2 weeks, Control group→27.4 weeks

Mother’s age (years): Intervention group→34.95 Standard group→35.14

Father’s age (years): Intervention group→37.95 Standard group→38.35

Infant’s Gestational Age (GA) (weeks): Intervention group→29.35 Standard group→29.10

Teen mothers’ age (years): 16.13

Infants’ age (days): 52.71

GA (weeks): 30.0

Effect size

No change among the groups on any maternal distress variable.

Infant social behaviors→significant overall intervention effect (p < 0.05), but neither ATVV nor KC differed from the Control group.

Infant Developmental maturity→ significant overall intervention effect (p < 0.01), KC was higher than the other groups (p < 0.05).

Mothers who performed a form of massage→more rapid decline in depressive symptoms (p < 0.05).

Mothers who performed either a form of massage (p < 0.05) or both interventions (p < 0.05)→higher HOME scores than mothers who engaged in neither.

Parenting stress→lower for mothers engaged in any intervention than those who did not (a form of massage only→p < 0.001 , KC only→ p < 0.01, both→ p < 0.01).

At discharge: Intervention group parents→significantly lower levels of stress related to infant’s appearance/

behaviour and to Parental Role Alteration (PRA) than those of the Standard support group (p = 0.000).

Mothers→more stress in comparison with fathers (p ≤ 0.05).

The intervention→ effective in the reduction of stress-role alteration in mothers (p < 0.05), but not in fathers.

No significant difference between intervention and control groups in maternal confidence, parental stress, or ongoing feelings about physical contact with people.

Teen mothers in the intervention group (after the massage intervention)→more positive and comfortable feelings about physical contact with their current relationships in comparison with those in the control group (p < 0.05). The massage intervention exhibited a medium effect size on feelings of physical contact with current relationships (d = 0.59).

Teen mothers trained in infant massage→significantly lower depression scores than teen mothers without massage training (p < 0.05). A large effect size of massage intervention was found for both depression and maternal confidence (d = 0.91 and 1.10).

Teen mothers in the intervention group reported significantly more adaptive temperament of their infant than those in the control group (p < 0.05).

The massage intervention exhibited a large effect size on parental stress, maternal perception of infant temperament, and positive feelings related to physical contact (d = 0.92, 1.34, and 0.62).

Improvement in orientation behaviors and significantly fewer stress behaviors for the massaged group (p = 0.05).

More mature motor behaviors for the infants that received massage treatment (p < 0.005).

Level of evidencea