Effects of reflexology on premenstrual syndrome: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Biopsychosoc Med. 2019 Oct 24;13:25. doi: 10.1186/s13030-019-0165-0. eCollection 2019.


Background: Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) refers to a set of somatic and psychological symptoms that occur cyclically in the luteal phase of a menstrual cycle. There is no report of final result of reflexology on PMS. Therefore, the present study aimed to determine the effect of reflexology on PMS through a systematic review and meta-analysis study.

Method: The present study was a systematic review and meta-analysis that was conducted by searching in 8 electronic databases including PubMed, EMBASE, Cochrane Library, Web of Science, ProQuest, Scopus, Google Scholar, and SID until December 28, 2018. In this regard, interventional studies, which examined the impact of reflexology on women with premenstrual syndrome, were included. These studies were published during 1993 to 2018. The Cochrane Collaboration's Risk of Bias Tool was used to assess the quality of studies. Meta-analysis was performed by the help of CMA 2 software.

Results: Nine out of 407 studies finally remained after screening, and quantitative and quantitative analyses were performed on them. The total number of research samples was 475. The mean treatment time with reflexology was 40.55 min per session that was performed in 6 to 10 sessions of treatment in 66.67% of studies. According to the meta-analysis and based on the random effects model, the reflexology could decrease the severity of PMS in the intervention group compared to the control group (SMD = - 2.717, 95% CI: - 3.722 to - 1.712). Meta-regression results indicated that the duration of intervention sessions (β = - 0.1124, 95% CI - 0.142 to - 0.084, p < 0.001) had a significant impact on the severity of PMS. Reflexology could also significantly affect somatic (SMD = - 1.142, 95% CI: - 1.481 to - 0.803) and psychological (SMD = - 1.380, 95% CI: - 2.082 to - 0.677) symptoms arising from PMS.

Conclusion: In general, results of the present study indicated that the reflexology could relieve PMS symptoms, so that overall scores, somatic and psychological symptoms of PMS decreased by applying the reflexology intervention. Furthermore, an increase in the length of reflexology time in each session increased its efficiency. Reflexology can be used as an effective intervention in a patient care program by nurses and its efficiency can be enhanced by increasing intervention time in each reflexology treatment session.

Keywords: Massage; Meta-analysis; Premenstrual syndrome (PMS); Reflexology, Systematic review.