Wyatt, G., Sikorskii, A., Rahbar, M. H., Victorson, D., & You, M. (2012). Health-related quality-of-life outcomes: a reflexology trial with patients with advanced-stage breast cancer. Oncology Nursing Forum, 39, 568–577.doi: 10.1188/12.ONF.568-577
To evaluate the safety and efficacy of reflexology.
Patients were randomly assigned to one of three groups: reflexology, lay foot manipulation, or the control. Certified reflexology providers administered the reflexology intervention in four weekly, 30-minute sessions. Foot manipulation providers were laywomen trained in the procedure. The laywomen delivered foot manipulation according to the relexology schedule. The control group received standard care. Study data were collected at baseline and at 5 and 11 weeks after randomization. Reflexologists and foot manipulation providers collected data after sessions at the planned time points.
The study has clinical applicability for late effects and survivorship.
The study was a three-group, single-blind, randomized, controlled trial.
At baseline, scores regarding anxiety and depression, according to the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CESD), differed significantly (p < 0.01) across study groups. No differences were found regarding quality of life and symptoms of depression, anxiety, pain, or nausea. Those receiving reflexology reported lower levels of dyspnea than did the other two groups (p ≤ 0.02). Patients getting foot manipulation from laywomen had lower fatigue scores than did the controls (p < 0.01). Further analysis showed that the effect on fatigue was mediated by changes in dyspnea. Eleven percent of those in the foot manipulation group and 10% of those in the reflexology group did not complete all the sessions. The intervention had no adverse effects.
The findings suggested that reflexology may improve the symptoms of dyspnea and that foot manipulation may help reduce fatigue in women with advanced-stage breast cancer. The authors noted no effect of reflexology or foot manipulation on pain, anxiety, symptoms of depression, or nausea.
The findings did not indicate that reflexology and foot manipulation affected pain, anxiety, symptoms of depression, or nausea among women with advanced breast cancer. The study demonstrated that these interventions are safe for the type of patients who participated. Reflexology and foot manipulation are low-risk interventions that may be helpful to some patients. Laypeople and caregivers could be taught these techniques, which may provide a meaningful way for these people to be involved in symptom management.