Conference “Shiatsu in Integrated Medicine, current experiences and future perspectives”. Friday 16 June 2023 – Giorgio Cini Foundation-Venezia (Italy). Excerpt from some conference proceedings.


Director of the Radiotherapy Unit – ASP Provincial Health Authority of Siracusa (Italy)


Good morning, I want to quickly focus on some details of the scientific work, presented at the SIO, International Society of Integrated Oncology, in 2019 in New York, just to share the methodology. This is because, in my opinion, it is closely related to what has been discussed from this morning until now. Why did I propose Shiatsu? Because I have personally experienced Shiatsu.I am a medical oncologist and radiotherapist: you know that we healthcare workers can suffer from the so-called burn-out, that is, a clinical-psychological syndrome that we experience due to the dramatic load,of what we encounter on a daily basis. And it is precisely in one of these heavy moments of my professional life,that I thought of entrusting myself to the hands of a friend who practices Shiatsu, precisely with the intention of helping me overcome this moment. To begin, it is with profound gratitude that I address my thanks,to all of you present and to you who help me

you hosted, to the associations and schools that promoted this conference.

I was immediately struck by the title of the conference which has as its theme “One voice for Shiatsu” and, in particular, as underlined in the subtitle “Competence and training to guarantee users”. This was a key phrase for me, not only to communicate my experience with Shiatsu, but above all because it was precisely the driving force,that pushed me to propose this experience, to seek collaborations to carry it out, to present it to the patients and to make it real.

In this experience, in addition to your colleague Shiatsu operator, I was supported by a psychologist colleague from my ASP Provincial Health Company who, for the same reason as me, had experienced the same path as me, and by a graduate student in psychology and also an operator Shiatsu. We agreed that it was right and profoundly ethical,to propose the same treatment to cancer patients too, so that they too could benefit from those same advantages. But the incipit of this discussion,is the testimony of the high professionalism of the Shiatsu operators,that I had the honor of meeting.In fact, their first reaction was to underline the extreme delicacy and great responsibility of having to enter the world of people,who carry a considerable physical, psychological and social burden and who are reinserted into society. They immediately understood that they had to be part of a process, which had to accompany these people to regain possession,of a “normal” social role. From these assumptions,the pilot project was born which we wanted to call “Contact”, a moment of profound sharing between four different professionals,it all started from the observation that patients in follow-up, monitored after traditional therapies, often report significant symptoms, such as poor sleep quality, high levels of anxiety, physical and mental fatigue, widespread osteo/muscular pain and, in overall, a reduction in their quality of life. The patients included in this observation and in the experimental project,had to present at least one of these symptoms.

We selected 40 breast operated women who followed a traditional therapeutic path. This path included conservative surgery, chemotherapy or hormonal therapy and radiotherapy; after these therapeutic moments, the patients were included in a follow-up program. Of these women, 20 received Shiatsu treatments, while another 20 freely chose not to participate in the complementary therapy. It is important to underline,that none of these patients were currently following active therapy, so they were not receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy; some were still undergoing hormone therapy,which usually lasts no less than 5 years. Furthermore,they had to show no signs or symptoms of active disease or metastasis.The Shiatsu treatment cycle consisted of six sessions, once a week, each lasting approximately 30 minutes. They all filled out standardized questionnaires at time zero (before the start of treatments), at the end of the cycle and at time T1 (three months later), during the radiotherapy follow-up. Which measurement tools were used? We recorded each patient’s clinical characteristics, including disease location, disease status, diagnosis, age at onset, whether they had received chemotherapy or radiotherapy, length of follow-up, and other clinical and personal data useful for defining patient categories. We used the following questionnaires: EORTC QLQ-C30, State-Trait Anxiety InventoryY and Multidimensional Fatigue Inventory-MFI-20. The administration and evaluation of the questionnaires,were followed by a psychologist and psychotherapist colleague of the ASP. The tools and measurement criteria,used to evaluate the potential benefits of Shiatsu treatment,are the same as medical treatment evaluation protocols. What do these tools measure? They measure the patients’ quality of life, i.e. the perceptions linked to physical, psychological and social conditions, as well as the subjective level of anxiety, both state (feeling of uncertainty and helplessness in the face of perceived damage) and trait (tendency to perceive some real everyday situations,such as dangerous and stressful). The MFI test is specific for fatigue, a feeling of general tiredness often complained of by these patients.The results of this therapeutic experience are the result of a continuous dialogue with the Shiatsu operator, with whom we constantly discussed. My psychologist colleague and I,monitored the type of relationship between the Shiatsu operators and the patients and the reactions during and after the therapy. Once the data was collected, we compared it with these values. All questionnaires were validated and measured with measurement methods. We received support from the University of Catania for the analysis of these tests and the results were quantified in values, as shown by the data reported in the study that summarizes the experience. The two groups of patients, those who received the Shiatsu treatment and those who did not receive it, had similar characteristics at time zero, with the exception of the fatigue test value, which was much higher in the group treated with Shiatsu. This suggests that people who chose to approach treatment,were probably more sensitive and aware of their situation and therefore willing to do something to improve their condition.

From the analysis of the data,at the end of the observation the following results emerge: a tendency towards an improvement in the perceived quality of life,a decrease in anxiety and an improvement in fatigue. These data are interesting and require further reflection and future research, given that the sample examined represents too small a number to produce irrefutable results.

We will therefore resume this experience shortly, with the same criteria. The message, clear at least for us who have conducted this experience, is that the Shiatsu treatment demonstrates safety, feasibility and effectiveness, as long as it is practiced by highly professional operators. We have noticed great attention,to guaranteeing the high standard of Shiatsu techniques, which is a symptom of great professionalism on the part of the operators.

Thank you for your attention and good continuation of the conference work.