Effect of Reflexology on the Constipation Status of Elderly People

Yonago Acta Med. 2020 May 18;63(2):115-121. doi: 10.33160/yam.2020.05.007. eCollection 2020 May.


Background: The current literature shows that one of the alternative therapies used to control constipation is reflexology. This study was conducted to assess the effect of reflexology on the constipation status of elderly people.

Methods: This study was randomized clinical trial conducted from at the private nursing home in the Ankara Province. At the nursing home, 60 eligible elderly people were randomly assigned into experimental (n = 30) and control (n = 30) groups. The experimental group received foot reflexology massage for 1 month three times per week for 30 min. Reflexology was initiated from the patient's right foot. The foot was relaxed primarily by applying effleurage followed by shaking, rotation, and stretching methods. The practice ended by applying solar plexus pressure on both feet. For elderly people in the control group foot surface massage without pressure was applied to simulate the interventions similar to the experimental group. The scale scores before and after reflexology were noted for the experimental group, and those for the control group, which did not receive any reflexology massage, were also determined.

Results: After the implementation of reflexology, the rate of emptying bowels on alternate days increased in the experimental group as opposed to that in the control group (P < 0.001). In this study, reflexology was found to improve the quality of life of the elderly and decrease the severity of constipation.

Conclusion: Foot reflexology massage was found to be effective in relieving the constipation of elderly people. Therefore, reflexology is recommended as part of nursing care to reduce the constipation status of elderly people.

Keywords: constipation; elderly people; randomized controlled trial; reflexology.