Randomised controlled trial of the effectiveness of using foot reflexology to improve quality of sleep amongst Taiwanese postpartum women

Midwifery. 2011 Apr;27(2):181-6. doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2009.04.005. Epub 2009 Jul 5.


Objective: to examine the effectiveness of using foot reflexology to improve sleep quality in postpartum women.

Design and setting: randomised controlled trial, conducted at two postpartum centres in northern Taiwan.

Participants: 65 postpartum women reporting poor quality of sleep were recruited from July 2007 to December 2007.

Interventions: participants were assigned randomly to either an intervention or a control group. Participants in both groups received the same care except for reflexology therapy. The intervention group received a single 30-minute foot reflexology session at the same time each evening for five consecutive days. Sessions were administered by a certified nurse reflexologist. MEASURES AND FINDINGS: the outcome measure was the Pittsburgh sleep quality index (PSQI), and this was performed at baseline and post test. Mean PQSI scores for both groups declined over time between baseline and post test. Using a generalised estimation equation to control several confounding variables, the changes in mean PSQI were found to be significantly lower in the intervention group (β=-2.24, standard error=0.38, p<0.001) than in the control group.

Conclusion: an intervention involving foot reflexology in the postnatal period significantly improved the quality of sleep.

Implications for practice: midwives should evaluate maternal sleep quality and design early intervention programmes to improve quality of sleep in order to increase maternal biopsychosocial well-being. Midwives interested in complementary therapies should be encouraged to obtain training in reflexology and to apply it in clinical settings if it is allowed.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Complementary Therapies / methods
  • Dyssomnias / etiology
  • Dyssomnias / therapy*
  • Education, Nursing, Continuing
  • Female
  • Foot*
  • Humans
  • Massage* / education
  • Massage* / standards
  • Midwifery
  • Polysomnography
  • Postpartum Period*
  • Pregnancy
  • Quality of Life
  • Sleep
  • Stress, Psychological / complications
  • Treatment Outcome