Effect of Self-Administered Foot Reflexology for Symptom Management in Healthy Persons: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Complement Ther Med. 2015 Feb;23(1):79-89. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2014.11.005. Epub 2014 Dec 9.

Abstract

Objectives: Self-administered foot reflexology is unrestricted by time and space, economical, and practical because it is easy to learn and apply. This study estimated the effectiveness of self-foot reflexology for symptom management in healthy persons through a systematic review and meta-analysis.

Methods: The participants were healthy persons not diagnosed with a specific disease. The intervention was foot reflexology administered by participants, not by practitioners or healthcare providers. The comparative studies either between groups or within group comparison were included. Our search utilized core databases (MEDLINE, EMBASE, Cochrane, and CINAHL). We also searched Chinese (CNKI), Japanese (J-STAGE), and Korean databases (KoreaMed, KMbase, KISS, NDSL, KISTI, and OASIS). The search was used MeSH terminology and key words (foot reflexology, foot massage, and self).

Results: Analysis of three non-randomized trials and three before-and-after studies showed that self-administered foot reflexology resulted in significant improvement in subjective outcomes such as perceived stress, fatigue, and depression. However, there was no significant improvement in objective outcomes such as cortisol levels, blood pressure, and pulse rate. We did not find any randomized controlled trial.

Conclusions: This study presents the effectiveness of self-administered foot reflexology for healthy persons' psychological and physiological symptoms. While objective outcomes showed limited results, significant improvements were found in subjective outcomes. However, owing to the small number of studies and methodological flaws, there was insufficient evidence supporting the use of self-performed foot reflexology. Well-designed randomized controlled trials are needed to assess the effect of self-administered foot reflexology in healthy people.

Keywords: Foot reflexology; Self-administration; Systematic review.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Management
  • Foot
  • Humans
  • Massage / methods*
  • Self Care / methods*