Evaluation of a hospice based reflexology service: a qualitative audit of patient perceptions

Eur J Oncol Nurs. 2002 Mar;6(1):37-44. doi: 10.1054/ejon.2001.0157.


Complementary therapies are being increasingly used in palliative care in the drive to improve patients' emotional, psychological and spiritual health, and enhance the quality of their lives. The importance of seeking the 'user' perspective when evaluating such services is becoming increasingly acknowledged. However, it is also extremely important that we elicit such perspectives in an ethically sensitive manner. This study used a simple semi-structured questionnaire to elicit the views of a convenience sample of 34 patients receiving palliative care at a specialist palliative core unit in the north of England who had completed a course of 4-6 sessions of reflexology. Patients' comments about the therapy and the service as a whole were overwhelmingly positive. They identified relaxation, relief from tension and anxiety, feelings of comfort and improved well-being as beneficial effects of their course of reflexology. Patients also spontaneously evaluated the experience holistically in terms of the wider therapeutic environment--the centre, the staff and the therapist as well as the therapy itself. The increasing demand for evidence based practice now challenges researchers to provide a relevant holistic assessment of complementary therapies using approaches that are both ethical and sensitive to the needs of this vulnerable patient population.