The Effect of Foot Reflexology on Acute Pain in Infants: A Randomized Controlled Trial

Worldviews Evid Based Nurs. 2015 Oct;12(5):289-96. doi: 10.1111/wvn.12099. Epub 2015 Jul 28.


Aim: This study was a randomized controlled trial designed to evaluate the effect of foot reflexology applied on infants on acute pain that may arise after vaccine injection.

Methods: The sample consisted of 1- to 12-month-old infants registered in a family health center in Istanbul, Turkey, for healthcare follow-up. A total of 60 infants who met the criteria of the sample group were included in the study; 30 infants constituted the reflexology group and the other 30 constituted the control group. Although questionnaire forms were used to determine the descriptive characteristics of infant-mother pairs, the Face, Legs, Activity, Cry, Consolability (FLACC) Pain Assessment Scale was used to evaluate pain level. Infants in the reflexology group received reflexology treatment for an average of 20-30 minutes before vaccination, depending on the physical size of the infant's foot. Pain, heart rate, oxygen saturation levels, and crying periods of infants in the reflexology and control groups were evaluated before and after vaccination.

Results: The FLACC pain score was observed to be statistically similar between groups. After reflexology was applied to infants in the reflexology group before vaccination, it was determined that the pain score was reduced to .50 ± 1.14. In the examination performed after vaccination, FLACC pain score was found to be 5.47 ± 2.11 in the reflexology group and 9.63 ± .85 in the control group. A statistically significant difference was observed between the mean FLACC pain scores of infants in the reflexology and control groups (p = .000). The infants in the reflexology group also had lower heart rates, higher oxygen saturation, and shorter crying periods than the infants in the control group (p <.001).

Linking evidence to actions: Reflexology before vaccine reduced the pain level experienced after vaccination. Future research needs to explore different interventional practices.

Keywords: acute pain; infant; nurse; reflexology.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acute Pain / prevention & control
  • Acute Pain / therapy*
  • Female
  • Foot*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Massage / methods
  • Massage / standards*
  • Pain Measurement / statistics & numerical data