Objectives: This research was conducted to analyze the effect of foot reflexology on the anxiety levels of women during labor.
Design, setting and subjects: The study was conducted as a semiexperimental study. It was conducted with 154 nulliparous pregnant women who applied to a maternity unit of a state hospital in the north-western part of Turkey to give birth.
Interventions: Foot reflexology was applied once to the pregnant women in the experimental group when cervical dilation was 3-4 cm. The treatment was applied to the right foot and left foot reflex points for 15 min, for a total of 30 min. The data in the study were collected using the "Pregnant Women Introductory Information Form" and the "Spielberger State-trait Anxiety Inventory" (STAI TX-1). In evaluating the data, number, percentage, Chi-square, independent samples t-test, and repeated measure analysis of variance test were used.
Main outcome measures: The mean scores of the STAI TX-1 were used to analyze the results.
Results: The mean STAI TX-1 scores were measured before reflexology, in the latent and active phases of labor and early in postpartum period (four times in total). The mean STAI TX-1 scores were higher in the experimental group than in the control group (p < 0.001). The mean STAI TX-1 scores postreflexology application (when cervical dilation was 3-4 cm) and during the active phase of the labor (when cervical dilation was 6-8 cm) of the pregnant women in the experimental group were lower than those of the control group (respectively p = 0.010, p < 0.001). In the experimental group, there was no statistically significant difference between the mean STAI TX-1 scores pre- and postreflexology (p = 0.820). The mean STAI TX-1 scores in the early postpartum period were similar in the experimental and control groups (p = 0.080).
Conclusion: Foot reflexology was found to have a positive effect in lowering the total anxiety scores of the pregnant women. Reflexology is a noninvasive and economical method, which may be used by health professionals to reduce problems during labor. A decrease in anxiety experienced at birth improves women's positive birth experiences, promotes a secure mother-infant attachment, and protects postpartum mental health.
Keywords: Turkey; anxiety; foot reflexology; labor; midwife; midwifery care; nullipar.