Massage therapy in infants and children under 5 years of age: protocol for an overview of systematic reviews

Shu Cheng Chen, Juan Yu, Sam Chun Sum Yuen, Jason Chun Sing Lam, Lorna Kwai Ping Suen, Wing Fai Yeung*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)



Massage is a popularly used complementary and alternative therapy. Previous randomised controlled trials have examined the effects of massage on children, and several systematic reviews have been conducted to synthesise these data. This study aims to assess and summarise the current evidence from published systematic reviews of controlled clinical trials on the practice of paediatric massage, specifically in infants and children aged < 5 years. 


The online databases MEDLINE, Embase, Health Technology Assessment Database, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Database of Abstracts of Reviews of Effects, Allied and Complementary Medicine, China National Knowledge Infrastructure and Wanfang Data will be searched from the inception onwards for evidence of the treatment effects. We will include systematic reviews of randomised control trials evaluating the effects and safety of massage therapy in infants and children aged < 5 years. The primary outcomes will be any physical or psychological outcome, and adverse effects on children. Secondary outcomes will include any physical or psychological outcome on caregivers. Two reviewers will independently screen the articles for inclusion as per the eligibility criteria. They will extract information from the included studies and assess the methodological quality of the included studies. A table will be used to summarise of information of the included studies, which includes the basic information, method and findings. The methodological quality of the included systematic reviews will be assessed by A Measurement Tool to Assess Systematic Reviews version 2 (AMSTAR 2). Extracted data from the included studies will be collected and presented using narrative approach. The pooled effect estimates for meta-analysed outcomes will be extracted when possible. If there is a discrepancy in results of two or more reviews on the same topic, then the causes of such discrepancy will be further explored. 


This overview of systematic reviews will summarise the current evidence on massage, specifically for infants and children aged < 5 years. We will comprehensively present the positive effects and adverse effects of this intervention. Findings from this overview will be published in a peer-reviewed journal. 

Systematic review registration


Original languageEnglish
Article number127
JournalSystematic Reviews
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)

User-Defined Keywords

  • External therapy
  • Infants and children under 5 years
  • Massage
  • Overview
  • Paediatric condition
  • Systematic review


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