Reaction: physical contact improves physical and mental health, meta-analysis of studies shows

A review and meta-analysis of 212 studies shows that physical contact is associated with both physical and mental improvement in areas such as anxiety, depression and weight gain in newborns. The benefits were especially true if the contact was with another person, but also with items such as robots. The results are published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour.

09/04/2024 - 10:42 CEST
Expert reactions

Sebastian Ocklenburg - contacto físico EN

Sebastian Ocklenburg

Professor of research methods in Psychology at the medical faculty of the MSH Medical School in Hamburg (Germany)

Science Media Centre Spain

The study is of great quality. The hypotheses and study protocol have been preregistered and the results of more than 200 studies have been integrated. This ensures high statistical power and robustness of results compared to smaller empirical studies in a single lab.  

The study confirms previous findings from smaller empirical studies on a meta-analytic level. Overall, it shows strong evidence that touch interventions can be beneficial for both physical and mental health 

The results of the study do not imply anything regarding the proposed mechanisms underlying alternative therapies. As a meta-analysis, this is simply a statistical integration of existing studies on many different forms of touch interventions. 

[Regarding limitations] As mentioned above, as a meta-analysis the study does not allow any conclusions on why touch interventions have so many benefits for physical and mental health. 

“I have published several papers with the first author”. 

A systematic review and multivariate meta-analysis of the physical and mental health benefits of touch interventions
  • Research article
  • Peer reviewed
  • People
  • Systematic review
Nature Human Behaviour
Publication date

Packheiser et al.

Study types:
  • Research article
  • Peer reviewed
  • People
  • Systematic review
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