Effects of Combined Foot Massage and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy on the Stress Response in Middle-Aged Women

J Altern Complement Med. 2017 Jun;23(6):445-450. doi: 10.1089/acm.2016.0421. Epub 2017 May 3.


Objective: Several intervention studies have suggested that foot massage and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are beneficial for reducing the stress response. However, no randomized control trials have been conducted to examine these effects in middle-aged women, who are more commonly exposed to stress relative to others. This study aimed to examine the effects of combined self-administered foot massage and CBT on the psychophysiological stress response in Korean middle-aged women.

Design: Randomized controlled trial.

Setting: Subjects were recruited from the social welfare center in Sahmcheok, Kangwondo, Korea. The subjects performed some of the massage at the center and some at home, and CBT was performed at the center.

Subjects: Fifty-three women aged 45-64 years were randomly assigned to Group A (intervention, n = 31) or B (usual care, n = 30).

Intervention: Combined self-administered foot massage and CBT.

Outcome measures: Depression, anxiety, stress, blood pressure, heart rate, blood glucose (BG), and oxygen saturation were measured at baseline and 3-week follow-up.

Results: Mean depression scores (p = 0.021), stress scores (p = 0.009), systolic blood pressure (SBP) (p = 0.035), and BG levels (p = 0.007) had decreased significantly subsequent to the intervention.

Conclusion: Combined self-administered foot massage and CBT led to reductions in depression, stress, SBP, and BG levels. Therefore, the intervention could be an effective means of reducing the stress response in middle-aged women.

Keywords: cognitive behavior therapy; combination therapy; foot massage; middle age; stress; women.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy*
  • Female
  • Foot / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Massage*
  • Middle Aged
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*