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

Michael Matthews, Claire Carswell, Avril Redmond, Stephanie Bolton, Kim Murphy, Robert Mullan, Helen McAneney, Clare McKeaveney, Helen Noble

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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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)255-264
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of renal care
Issue number4
Early online date5 May 2021
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 2 Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

© 2021 The Authors. Journal of Renal Care published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of European Dialysis & Transplant Nurses Association/European Renal Care Association.


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


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