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Published Online: 1 January 2018

The Effect of Reflexology on the Pain-Insomnia-Fatigue Disturbance Cluster of Breast Cancer Patients During Adjuvant Radiation Therapy

Publication: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Volume 24, Issue Number 1


Objective: To evaluate the effects of reflexology treatment on quality of life, sleep disturbances, and fatigue in breast cancer patients during radiation therapy.
Methods/Subjects: A total of 72 women with breast cancer (stages 1–3) scheduled for radiation therapy were recruited.
Design: Women were allocated upon their preference either to the group receiving reflexology treatments once a week concurrently with radiotherapy and continued for 10 weeks or to the control group (usual care).
Outcome measures: The Lee Fatigue Scale, General Sleep Disturbance Scale, and Multidimensional Quality of Life Scale Cancer were completed by each patient in both arms at the beginning of the radiation treatment, after 5 weeks, and after 10 weeks of reflexology treatment.
Results: The final analysis included 58 women. The reflexology treated group demonstrated statistically significant lower levels of fatigue after 5 weeks of radiation therapy (p < 0.001), compared to the control group. It was also detected that although the quality of life in the control group deteriorated after 5 and 10 weeks of radiation therapy (p < 0.01 and p < 0.05, respectively), it was preserved in the reflexology group, which also demonstrated a significant improvement in the quality of sleep after 10 weeks of radiation treatment (p < 0.05). Similar patterns were obtained in the assessment of the pain levels experienced by the patients.
Conclusions: The results of the present study indicate that reflexology may have a positive effect on fatigue, quality of sleep, pain, and quality of life in breast cancer patients during radiation therapy. Reflexology prevented the decline in quality of life and significantly ameliorated the fatigue and quality of sleep of these patients. An encouraging trend was also noted in amelioration of pain levels.

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Published In

cover image The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Volume 24Issue Number 1January 2018
Pages: 62 - 68
PubMed: 28440664


Published in print: January 2018
Published online: 1 January 2018
Published ahead of print: 25 April 2017


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Ricardo Tarrasch, PhD
The Jaime and Joan Constantiner School of Education, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel.
Narin N. Carmel-Neiderman, MD
Complementary and Integrative Medicine Service, Sheba Medical Center, Ramat-Gan, Israel.
Sarah Ben-Ami, MSc
Oncology Department, Sheba Medical Center, Ramat-Gan, Israel.
Bella Kaufman, MD
Oncology Department, Sheba Medical Center, Ramat-Gan, Israel.
Raphi Pfeffer, MD
Radiation Oncology Department, Sheba Medical Center, Ramat-Gan, Israel.
Merav Ben-David, MD
Radiation Oncology Department, Sheba Medical Center, Ramat-Gan, Israel.
Sackler School of Medicine, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, Israel.
Dorit Gamus, MD, PhD
Complementary and Integrative Medicine Service, Sheba Medical Center, Ramat-Gan, Israel.


This study was presented at: The International Congress on Integrative Medicine and Health (ICIMH), Las Vegas, Nevada, May 17–20, 2016.
Address correspondence to:Dorit Gamus, MD, PhDComplementary and Integrative Medicine ServiceSheba Medical CenterRamat-Gan 52621Israel
E-mail: [email protected]

Author Disclosure Statement

No competing financial interests exist.

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