This study was done to evaluate the effects of foot reflexology on blood pressure, serum lipids, fatigue and self-efficacy in patients with hypertension.

The research was done between June 23 and July 31, 2003 and the design was an experimental treatment design. The thirty-four participants were assigned to either an experimental group (18) or a control group (16), Foot reflexology was administered twice a week for 6 weeks to participants in the experimental group.

There was a significant decrease in systolic blood pressure and diastolic pressure in the experimental group compared to the control group. After the foot reflexology, total cholesterol and triglyceride levels for the experimental group did not decrease significantly compared to the control group. High density lipoprotein and low density lipoprotein levels also did not decrease significantly after foot reflexology. Fatigue in the experimental group decreased significantly after foot reflexology.

Self-efficacy in the experimental group did not decrease significantly after foot reflexology.

The results show that foot reflexology is an effective nursing intervention to decrease systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure and to treat fatigue but not serum lipids. Therefore, blood cholesterol should be further evaluated with a larger group of participants and for a longer period. Further research is necessary to evaluate and to compare effects of self-foot reflexology and foot reflexology. 

Department of Nursing Research Institute of Nursing Science, Pusan National University, Korea.

College of Medicine, Nursing Department, Pusan National University, Korea.
J Korean Acad Fundam Nurs. 2004 Aug;11(2):138-147. Korean.

Author: Cho GY, Park HS.

The Effects of Foot Reflexology on Self-Esteem and Vitality of the Elderly Women

This study was done to verify the effects of foot reflexology on the self-esteem and vitality of elders.

A non-equivalent control group pre and post-test design was used. Research instruments to measure self-esteem and vitality were used in this study. The participants were elderly women hospitalized in a hospital in Okcheon County, Chungbuk Province, Korea. The 18 patients in the experimental group performed 40 minutes of foot reflexology per time for a total of 12 times over two weeks, and the 18 patients in the control group received regular care only. Before and after the experiment, both groups were tested for self-esteem and vitality. Frequencies, percentages, chi-square-test, t-test and Mann-Whitney U test with the SPSS/WIN 10.0 program were used to analyze the collected data.

Vitality of the elderly women patients improved significantly in the experimental group. However self-esteem did not increase significantly.

Foot reflexology is effective as a nursing intervention in improving the health of elders.

J Korean Acad Fundam Nurs. 16(1):39-45 Feb 2009. Korean.
Affiliation: Department of Nursing, Daejeon University, Korea
Author: Lee KY.


Learning Objective #1:
Identify three biomarkers of physiologic stress in the physically and cognitively frail older population.

Learning Objective #2:
Describe the effects of a reflexology intervention in a nursing home population.

Alternative therapies may offer great promise in treating distress in older adults with dementia without the side effects of pharmaceuticals. A growing body of anecdotal literature suggests that reflexology may be an effective treatment for older adults with dementia, appearing to relieve pain and improve psychological well being.

This experimental repeated-measures study of 80 subjects (40 control and 40 experimental) with mild to moderate dementia randomized to experimental and control groups was designed to test the efficacy of reflexology as an alternative and complementary therapy in nursing home residents with mild to moderate dementia. The reflexology sessions and control group intervention was provided by a trained reflexology therapist once a week for 4 weeks, and lasted 30 minutes each. Physiologic stress was assessed using blood pressure, heart rate, and salivary measures of cortisol, alpha amylase and DHEA. Measures of pain, anxiety and depression were assessed using standardized indexes by trained data collectors blind to subject group assignment.

Analysis of variance for repeated measures demonstrated a significantly greater decrease in symptoms of pain, depression and physiologic measures of stress for the residents given reflexology treatment than for those in the control group.

These clinical findings support the use of reflexology in nursing home residents with mild/moderate dementia.

Nancy A. Hodgson, RN, PhD, CS1, Susan Andersen, BS2, and Heather Felker2. “Efficacy of Reflexology as a Palliative Treatment in Nursing Home Residents with Dementia: A Pilot Study” Presented at the 17th International Nursing Research Congress Focusing on Evidence-Based Practice (19-22 July 2006) (1) Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life, Polisher Research Institute, North Wales, PA, USA, (2) Research, Polisher Research Institute (formerly the Philadelphia Geriatric Center), Horsham, PA, USA