Effect of Foot Reflexology and Aromatherapy on Anxiety and Pain During Brachytherapy for Cervical Cancer

aromatherapy, reflexology, pain, anxiety, brachytherapy, cervical cancer
ONF 2021, 48(3), 265-276. DOI: 10.1188/21.ONF.265-276

Objectives: To determine if the addition of aromatherapy and foot reflexology to the standard of care improves pain and anxiety in patients receiving brachytherapy for cervical cancer.

Sample & Setting: 41 women with locally advanced cervical cancer who received intracavitary brachytherapy as part of their treatment.

Methods & Variables: Participants were randomized to either the control group, which received the standard-of-care management during brachytherapy, or the intervention group, which received the addition of aromatherapy and foot reflexology to standard of care. Participants rated their pain on a numeric rating scale and anxiety on the State–Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and a numeric rating scale at five different time points.

Results: All average pain and anxiety scores were equal or lower at each key time point for the intervention group. Statistically significant differences were found for the intervention group for anxiety on the numeric rating scale and on the STAI, but only post-reflexology.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses and other healthcare providers can be trained to provide reflexology during painful, anxiety-producing procedures to increase patient tolerance of these treatments and overall quality of life.

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