The present exploratory study sought to examine the changes of well-being associated with 3 weeks of resort based spa therapy. This is a traditional form of health enhancement incorporating balneotherapy, physical therapies, and health education in an inpatient setting.
PATIENTS AND METHOD:
Subjects were spa patients (n = 153, mean age 58 years) with chronic pain and other age related complaints of moderately higher than normal prevalence. The well-being variables were vegetative complaints, pain, fatigue, positive and negative mood, and health satisfaction assessed at the beginning and end of spa treatment as well as 5 weeks and 12 months thereafter.
Well-being improved significantly in all variables during spa therapy, the improvement continuing with a slight deterioration at 5 weeks after the stay. After 12 months, vegetative complaints and fatigue had again reached pre-spa levels, whereas pain, positive and negative mood as well as health satisfaction remained improved. Both patients with high and low levels of pain increase their well-being, although pain patients showed greater improvements in some of the measures. Subjects not responding to spa therapy were older and showed less health satisfaction.
The results suggest that spa therapy may be a powerful tool in enhancing well-being in progressed middle aged adults with common health impairments.