Reflexology and Breast Cancer

The Effects of Foot Reflexology on Anxiety and Pain in Patients With Breast and Lung Cancer

January/February 2000, Volume 27, Number 1

Nancy L.N. Stephenson, PhD, RN, CS, Sally P. Weinrich, RN, PhD, FAAN, and Abbas S. Tavakoli, DrPH

Purpose/Objectives

To test the effects of foot reflexology on anxiety and pain in patients with breast and lung cancer.

Design

Quasi-experimental, pre/post, crossover.

Setting

A medical/oncology unit in a 314-bed hospital in the southeastern United States.

Sample

Twenty-three inpatients with breast or lung cancer. The majority of the sample were female, Caucasian, and 65 years or older; had 12 or fewer years of education and an annual income of $20,000 or more; and were receiving regularly scheduled opioids and adjuvant medications on the control and intervention day.

Methods

Procedures included an intervention condition (foot reflexology to both feet for 30 minutes total by a certified reflexologist) and a control condition for each patient (with at least a two-day break). No changes were made in patients’ regular schedule or medications.

Main Research Variables

Anxiety and pain.

Findings

Following the foot reflexology intervention, patients with breast and lung cancer experienced a significant decrease in anxiety. One of three pain measures showed that patients with breast cancer experienced a significant decrease in pain.

Conclusions

The significant decrease in anxiety observed in this sample of patients with breast and lung cancer following foot reflexology suggests that this may be a self-care approach to decrease anxiety in this patient population.

Implications for Nursing Practice: Professionals and lay people can be taught reflexology. Foot reflexology is an avenue for human touch, can be performed anywhere, requires no special equipment, is noninvasive, and does not interfere with patients’ privacy.

To view the full research paper you can visit; Oncology Nursing Forum