Study shows reflexology eases anxiety and depression in patients


It has been reported that up to 20% of patients with cardiovascular diseases experience anxiety and depression during hospitalisation (Chamberlain et al 2011, Meneghetti el al 2017).

A study recently published in the International Journal of Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork looked at the effects of foot reflexology massage on anxiety and depression in female older adults suffering from acute coronary syndrome (Bahrami T et al, 2019).

Ninety female patients over the age of 60 who had been hospitalised for one day in an Iranian cardiac care unit were randomly assigned to either an intervention group or control group. Those in the intervention group received routine care and a 20-minute reflexology treatment, which included a general foot massage and working the solar plexus, pituitary gland, brain, heart, large and small intestines, vertebral column, adrenal and kidney reflexes. The control group received routine care without foot reflexology massage.

Measurements taken before and immediately after the sessions showed that hospital anxiety and depression in the reflexology group significantly decreased compared to that of the control group.

The researchers concluded that foot reflexology massage is an efficient, ‘safe and non-pharmacological intervention that can be used, along with pharmacological measures, to reduce psychological symptoms and improve quality of care in patients with acute coronary syndrome’. They also recommend that ‘future studies with a larger sample size and long-term follow-up are needed to examine the effect of foot reflexology massage on psychological parameters in cardiac patients’.

Read the full study

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Bahrami T, Rejeh N, Heravi-Karimooi M, Tadrisi SD, Vaismoradi M. The Effect of Foot Reflexology on Hospital Anxiety and Depression in Female Older Adults: a Randomized Controlled Trial. Int J Ther Massage Bodywork. 2019 Aug 30;12(3):16-21. PMID: 31489059; PMCID: PMC6715326.

Tajfard M, Mobarhan MG, Rahimi HR, Mouhebati M, Esmaeily H, Ferns GA, et al. Anxiety, depression, coronary artery disease and diabetes mellitus; an association study in Ghaem Hospital, Iran. Iran Red Crescent Med J2014;16(9):e14589. doi: 10.5812/ircmj.14589.

Meneghetti CC, Guidolin BL, Zimmermann PR, Sfoggia A. Screening for symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients admitted to a university hospital with acute coronary syndrome. Trends Psychiatry Psychother2017;39(1):12–18. doi: 10.1590/2237-6089-2016-0004.

One thought on “Study shows reflexology eases anxiety and depression in patients

  1. Reflexology research – Federation of Holistic Therapists (FHT)

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