A nonrandomised pilot study to examine the feasibility and acceptability of reflexology in patients undergoing hospital-based haemodialysis (solitude study)

J Ren Care. 2021 Dec;47(4):255-264. doi: 10.1111/jorc.12372. Epub 2021 May 5.


Background: Patients with end-stage kidney disease, receiving haemodialysis can experience complications-hypotension, headache, muscle cramp, chest pain, nausea and vomiting. Patients who experience all or some of these symptoms will often report reduced health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and poor sleep quality, which may lead to increased morbidity and mortality.

Objective: The objective of this pilot study is to evaluate the feasibility of a larger randomised controlled trial to determine the effect of foot reflexology on a cohort of patients undergoing hospital-based haemodialysis.

Design: A nonrandomised pilot study using a multimethod approach.

Participants: Twenty patients undergoing hospital-based haemodialysis treatment.

Measurements: HRQOL and quality of sleep were measured using the SF-12 Health Survey and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). Semi-structured interviews were completed with 10 patients, exploring their experiences, opinions and perceptions of the intervention.

Results: There was an increase in the mean scores examining the total physical health and mental health components of the SF-12. All corresponding p values were statistically significant following the intervention. The mean total sleep score postintervention signified positive changes in sleep quality, with the corresponding p values being statistically significant. The study established the feasibility of the intervention and the benefits for patients undergoing haemodialysis.

Conclusion: This pilot study demonstrated the possibility of recruiting and retaining patients undergoing haemodialysis to a reflexology study. The study did not impact the haemodialysis routine and was positively received. The intervention showed statistically significant improvements in patients' HRQOL and sleep quality.

Keywords: haemodialysis; health related quality of life; pilot study; reflexology; sleep quality.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Feasibility Studies
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Musculoskeletal Manipulations*
  • Pilot Projects
  • Quality of Life*
  • Renal Dialysis / adverse effects