Use of reflexology foot massage to reduce anxiety in hospitalized cancer patients in chemotherapy treatment: methodology and outcomes

J Nurs Manag. 2006 Mar;14(2):96-105. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2934.2006.00557.x.


Aim: To examine the effectiveness of reflexology foot massage in hospitalized cancer patients undergoing second or third chemotherapy cycles.

Background: Since the late-1970s, studies have been conducted to assess the efficacy of behavioural and relaxation approaches in controlling nausea/vomiting, anxiety and other side-effects associated with chemotherapy.

Methods: The study consisted of 30 patients being admitted to the oncology unit at a Scientific Research Hospital in Italy. Only 15 of the 30 participants received therapeutic massage. The subjects' self-reports of anxiety (measured by the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory) were recorded before, after and 24 hours after the intervention.

Results: There was an average decrease of 7.9 points on the state-anxiety scale in the treatment group and of 0.8 points in the control group (P < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Reflexology foot massage can be considered a support treatment used in combination with traditional medical treatments and executed by an expert, qualified person to help cancer patients receiving chemotherapy feel better and also cope better with their disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Foot
  • Hospitalization*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Massage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasms / drug therapy
  • Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care