Partner-delivered reflexology: effects on cancer pain and anxiety

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Partner-delivered reflexology: effects on cancer pain and anxiety


Purpose/objectives: To compare the effects of partner-delivered foot reflexology and usual care plus attention on patients’ perceived pain and anxiety.

Design: The experimental pretest/post-test design included patient-partner dyads randomly assigned to an experimental or control group.

Setting: Four hospitals in the southeastern United States.

Sample: 42 experimental and 44 control subjects comprised 86 dyads of patients with metastatic cancer and their partners, representing 16 different types of cancer; 23% of patients had lung cancer, followed by breast, colorectal, and head and neck cancer and lymphoma. The subjects had a mean age of 58.3 years, 51% were female, 66% had a high school education or less, and 58% were Caucasian, 40% were African American, and 1% were Filipino.

Methods: The intervention included a 15- to 30-minute teaching session on foot reflexology to the partner by a certified reflexologist, an optional 15- to 30-minute foot reflexology session for the partner, and a 30-minute, partner-delivered foot reflexology intervention for the patient. The control group received a 30-minute reading session from their partners.

Main research variables: Pain and anxiety.

Findings: Following the initial partner-delivered foot reflexology, patients experienced a significant decrease in pain intensity and anxiety.

Conclusions: A nurse reflexologist taught partners how to perform reflexology on patients with metastatic cancer pain in the hospital, resulting in an immediate decrease in pain intensity and anxiety; minimal changes were seen in the control group, who received usual care plus attention.

Implications for nursing: Hospitals could have qualified professionals offer reflexology as a complementary therapy and teach interested partners the modality.


Stephenson NL, Swanson M, Dalton J, Keefe FJ, Engelke M. Partner-delivered reflexology: effects on cancer pain and anxiety. Oncol Nurs Forum. 2007 Jan;34(1):127-32. doi: 10.1188/07.ONF.127-132. PMID: 17562639.

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:

Μια νοσοκόμα ρεφλεξολόγος δίδαξε στους συνοδούς πώς να κάνουν ρεφλεξολογία σε νοσοκομειακούς ασθενείς με άλγος μεταστατικού καρκίνου  με αποτέλεσμα την άμεση μείωση της έντασης του πόνου και του άγχους. Ελάχιστες αλλαγές παρατηρήθηκαν στην ομάδα ελέγχου, οι ασθενείς της οποίας  έλαβαν τη συνήθη φροντίδα και προσοχή.

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