The effects of warm-water footbath on relieving fatigue and insomnia of the gynecologic cancer patients on chemotherapy

Cancer Nurs. Nov-Dec 2010;33(6):454-60. doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181d761c1.


Background: Most patients experience fatigue during chemotherapy. Ignoring this fatigue can contribute to worsening overall health of patients and a slowed recovery process.

Objective: We investigated the effectiveness of a warm-water footbath on relieving fatigue and insomnia problems in patients undergoing chemotherapy.

Methods: This was a 2-group, longitudinal study design. Adults diagnosed with gynecologic cancer and receiving a 4-series platinum chemotherapy regimen were recruited and then followed up for 6 months. They completed fatigue and insomnia items on the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 7th, and 14th days after each scheduled chemotherapy. Participants in the experimental group soaked their feet in 41°C to 42°C warm water for 20 minutes every evening, starting from the eve of receiving the first chemotherapy, whereas participants in the comparison group did not do so.

Results: : There were 25 and 18 participants in the comparison and experimental groups, respectively, who completed the study. Participants in the experimental group reported a significant reduction in fatigue and improvement in sleep quality from the second session of chemotherapy and continued to improve during the study period.

Conclusions: A warm-water footbath intervention resulted in reduced fatigue and insomnia symptoms for gynecologic cancer patients during chemotherapy.

Implications for practice: A warm-water footbath is local moist heat application. It is noninvasive and easy to apply at home. The findings provide empirical support that a warm-water footbath relieves fatigue and insomnia problems of patients undergoing chemotherapy. It can be a nonpharmaceutical method to help patients overcome fatigue and sleep problems during chemotherapy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Antineoplastic Agents / adverse effects*
  • Baths / methods
  • Fatigue / chemically induced
  • Fatigue / therapy*
  • Female
  • Foot
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / complications*
  • Genital Neoplasms, Female / drug therapy
  • Health Status Indicators
  • Hot Temperature / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Hydrotherapy / methods*
  • Middle Aged
  • Platinum Compounds / adverse effects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / chemically induced
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / therapy*
  • Water
  • Young Adult


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Platinum Compounds
  • Water