Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of foot reflexology on fatigue, sleep and pain.
Methods: A systematic review and meta-analysis were conducted. Electronic database and manual searches were conducted on all published studies reporting the effects of foot reflexology on fatigue, sleep, and pain. Forty four studies were eligible including 15 studies associated with fatigue, 18 with sleep, and 11 with pain. The effects of foot reflexology were analyzed using Comprehensive Meta-Analysis Version 2.0. The homogeneity and the fail-safe N were calculated. Moreover, a funnel plot was used to assess publication bias.
Results: The effects on fatigue, sleep, and pain were not homogeneous and ranged from 0.63 to 5.29, 0.01 to 3.22, and 0.43 to 2.67, respectively. The weighted averages for fatigue, sleep, and pain were 1.43, 1.19, and 1.35, respectively. No publication bias was detected as evaluated by fail-safe N. Foot reflexology had a larger effect on fatigue and sleep and a smaller effect on pain.
Conclusion: This meta-analysis indicates that foot reflexology is a useful nursing intervention to relieve fatigue and to promote sleep. Further studies are needed to evaluate the effects of foot reflexology on outcome variables other than fatigue, sleep and pain.