Self-administered foot reflexology for the management of chronic health conditions: a systematic review

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Self-administered foot reflexology for the management of chronic health conditions: a systematic review


Objectives: To systematically review the effect of self-administered foot reflexology in patients with chronic health conditions.

Methods: Electronic databases were searched for literature published from 1948 to January 2014. The databases included MEDLINE, EMBASE, the Cochrane Library, CINAHL, CNKI, J-STAGE, Koreamed, Kmbase, KISS, NDSL, KISTI, and OASIS. Key search terms were “exp/relaxation therapy,” “foot,” “reflexology,” “zone therapy,” and “self.” All study designs were included. Two raters independently extracted data and assessed study quality by using the Cochrane risk of bias tool (for randomized controlled trials) and the risk of bias assessment tool for nonrandomized studies (for nonrandomized and before-and-after studies). A qualitative and descriptive analysis was performed because of the clinical diversity associated with chronic health conditions.

Results: Of the 224 records assessed, 4 trials met the inclusion criteria: 3 nonrandomized controlled trials and 1 before-and-after study without comparison. Self-administered foot reflexology might have a positive effect in type 2 diabetes, but the low quality of the included study and the lack of adequately reported clinical outcomes obscure the results. Two studies of hypertensive patients and 1 study of patients with urinary incontinence showed that self-performed foot reflexology may exert a beneficial effect on lowering blood pressure and urinary incontinence; however, given the small sample size and the lack of any description of medications and other cointerventions, there was insufficient evidence to conclusively determine whether foot reflexology had any effect.

Conclusions: The included studies on self-administered foot reflexology in patients with type 2 diabetes, hypertension, or urinary incontinence provided insufficient evidence to determine a treatment effect. Therefore, a well-designed, large-scale, and randomized controlled trial is needed to confirm the effect of self-administered foot reflexology for chronic conditions.


Song HJ, Choi SM, Seo HJ, Lee H, Son H, Lee S. Self-administered foot reflexology for the management of chronic health conditions: a systematic review. J Altern Complement Med. 2015 Feb;21(2):69-76. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0166. Epub 2015 Jan 30. PMID: 25636044.

The conclusion of this research paper in Greek

The purpose of this section is to make this research paper useful to Greek speaking reflexologists. This is a tool developed by the Center of Reflexology and Research (Κέντρο Ρεφλεξολογίας και Έρευνας) in Greece and supervised volunteers from across the world.

Μετάφραση των συμπερασμάτων της συγκεκριμένης έρευνας:

Οι συμπεριλαμβανόμενες μελέτες για αυτο-χορηγούμενη πελματιαία ρεφλεξολογία σε ασθενείς με διαβήτη τύπου 2, υπέρταση ή ακράτεια ούρων παρείχαν ανεπαρκή στοιχεία για τον προσδιορισμό της θεραπευτικής επίδρασης. Επομένως, απαιτείται μια καλά σχεδιασμένη, μεγάλης κλίμακας και τυχαιοποιημένη ελεγχόμενη δοκιμή για να επιβεβαιωθεί η επίδραση της αυτο-χορηγούμενης πελματιαίας ρεφλεξολογίας σε χρόνιες παθήσεις.

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