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Title: Factors influencing reflexology treatment outcomes during pregnancy
Author: McCullough, Julie Elizabeth May
ISNI:       0000 0004 5368 7854
Awarding Body: Ulster University
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 2015
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Two thirds of pregnant women experience low back pain and one fifth experience pelvic pain, which can adversely affect daily lives. Reflexology may be helpful for general low back pain. Therefore, the aim of this research was , to investigate reflexology for the management of low back and/ or pelvic pain (LBPP) during pregnancy. Ninety primiparous women, were randomised to receive usual care, six reflexology or footbath treatments. Primary outcome measures were the Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) for pain frequency and intensity. Saliva samples were analysed for beta endorphin and cortisol concentration. Heart rate (HR), blood pressure (BP), intervention expectations and satisfaction and labour duration were recorded. Sixty-four women completed the trial. Adherence to the reflexology, usual care and footbath groups were 80%, 83.33% and 50% respectively. The reflexology group demonstrated a Mean Clinically Important Change in VAS pain frequency (1.64cm). Second stage of labour was significantly shorter (p=O.05) in the reflexology group compared to usual care (44.3 minutes). Beta endorphin and cortisol were reduced along with a significant reduction in systolic blood pressure (p=O.03) in the reflexology group but an increase in diastolic blood pressure (p=O.Ol) was observed in the footbath group. Reflexology was more helpful than footbaths (p=O.OOl), however, treatment satisfaction in both groups was high (p=O.07). Findings indicate a fully powered RCT in this area is feasible; however, a footbath is not a suitable sham treatment. The results suggest that reflexology acted to reduce pain, disrupting the cycle of pain and stress, leading to a reduction in BP, cortisol and beta endorphin. It is likely that reflexology acts by deactivating the HPA axis and sympathetic function and enhances the vagal pathways, having an overall effect on the psychoneuroimmunological functioning. Reflexology may be helpful for managing pregnancy related LBPP, by reducing physiological and psychological stress and enhancing positive emotions.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available