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

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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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
JournalJournal of renal care
Early online date05 May 2021
Publication statusEarly online date - 05 May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank the Northern Health and Social Care Trust for providing the funding for this study, the Northern Ireland Kidney Patient Association and the renal unit at Antrim Area Hospital for their input and support throughout the study.

Publisher Copyright:
© 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

Copyright 2021 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • haemodialysis
  • health related quality of life
  • pilot study
  • reflexology
  • sleep quality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology
  • Advanced and Specialised Nursing


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