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Randomized Controlled Trial
. 2018 Apr;24(4):352-360.
doi: 10.1089/acm.2017.0263. Epub 2018 Feb 23.

The Effect of Foot Reflexology on the Anxiety Levels of Women in Labor

Randomized Controlled Trial

The Effect of Foot Reflexology on the Anxiety Levels of Women in Labor

Zümrüt Yılar Erkek et al. J Altern Complement Med. .


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.

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