The effects of footbath on sleep among the older adults in nursing home: A quasi-experimental study

Complement Ther Med. 2016 Jun;26:40-6. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2016.02.005. Epub 2016 Feb 15.


Objectives: To examine the long-term effects of foot-bathing therapy, using different water temperatures, on the sleep quality of older adults living in nursing homes.

Design: A quasi-experimental study design with non-equivalent control group.

Settings: Thirty participants were recruited from a nursing home in Gyeong-gi Province, South Korea.

Interventions: The participants were randomly assigned to experimental, placebo, and control groups. The foot-bathing therapy was performed for 30min daily for four weeks. Water at 40°C was used for the experimental group, while water at 36.5°C was used for the placebo group. The control group did not receive any intervention.

Main outcome measures: The participants' sleep patterns (total sleep amount, sleep efficiency, and sleep latency) and sleep-disturbed behaviors were compared based on group, using actigraphy and a sleep disorder inventory.

Results: The total amount of sleep and sleep efficiency were significantly different for the experimental group, especially those with poor sleep quality. There were no differences in sleep latency or sleep-disturbed behaviors among the groups. The long-term effect of the therapy decreased in the third week of the therapy.

Conclusions: Daily, 30-min foot-bathing therapy sessions with water at 40°C were effective in improving sleep quality for older adults. The therapy was more effective for participants with poor sleep quality at baseline assessment than those with relatively good sleep quality. The long-term effects of foot-bathing therapy decreased three weeks after initiation; therefore, it might be desirable to deliver the therapy for two weeks, pause it for a week, and then resume it.

Keywords: Aged; Footbaths; Intervention studies; Sleep.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Baths*
  • Complementary Therapies / methods*
  • Female
  • Foot / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Hydrotherapy / methods*
  • Male
  • Sleep / physiology*