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Reflexology or Aromatherapy Massage in Relieving Symptoms in Patients With Cancer

This study has been completed.
Information provided by:
National Cancer Institute (NCI) Identifier:
First received: October 7, 2010
Last updated: October 31, 2016
Last verified: October 2010

RATIONALE: Reflexology and aromatherapy massage may lessen symptoms in patients with cancer. It is not yet known whether reflexology is more effective than aromatherapy massage in relieving symptoms in patients with cancer.

PURPOSE: This randomized clinical trial is studying reflexology to see how well it works compared with aromatherapy massage in relieving symptoms in patients with cancer.

Condition Intervention
Psychosocial Effects of Cancer and Its Treatment
Unspecified Adult Solid Tumor, Protocol Specific
Other: questionnaire administration
Procedure: aromatherapy and essential oils
Procedure: management of therapy complications
Procedure: massage therapy
Procedure: psychosocial assessment and care
Procedure: reflexology procedure

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Primary Purpose: Supportive Care
Official Title: Is Reflexology as Effective as Aromatherapy Massage for Symptom Relief in an Outpatient Oncology Population?

Further study details as provided by National Cancer Institute (NCI):

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Difference of 1 point of concern scores in Measure Yourself Concerns and Well-being (MYCAW) questionnaire from baseline to second evaluation (after completion of all four sessions of therapy)

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Difference of 2 points of concern scores in MYCAW questionnaire
  • Difference in MYCAW overall well-being score
  • Change over time in pre-session Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) relaxation score (long-term relaxation benefit)
  • Change in pre- to post-session VAS relaxation score (short-term relaxation benefit)
  • Percentage of patients gaining benefit from the intervention defined as improvement by at least 1 point in all answered MYCAW scales

Estimated Enrollment: 100
Study Start Date: October 2010
Study Completion Date: November 2011
Primary Completion Date: November 2011 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Detailed Description:



  • To determine whether reflexology is as effective as aromatherapy massage for alleviation of self-selected symptoms in patients with cancer in an outpatient setting.


  • To determine the difference between the two therapies with respect to Visual Analogue Scale (VAS) relaxation scores before and after each treatment.

OUTLINE: Patients are stratified according to gender (male vs female), treatment (chemotherapy vs other) and their first concern choice (pain vs other). Patients are randomized to 1 of 2 intervention arms.

  • Arm I (Reflexology): Patients undergo 45-60 minutes of reflexology for 4 sessions.
  • Arm II (Aromatherapy massage): Patients undergo 45-60 minutes of of aromatherapy massage for 4 sessions.

Patients complete questionnaires (Measure Yourself Concerns and Well-being [MYCAW] questionnaire and Visual Analogue Scale [VAS]) at baseline, before and after each session, and after completion of all four sessions.


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 120 Years   (Adult, Senior)
Sexes Eligible for Study:   All
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   No


  • Any patient receiving treatment for cancer at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust Hospital

    • Must be attending the hospital as an outpatient
  • Planning to access complementary therapy


  • No excessive pain in both hands and both feet
  • Not experiencing a combination of conditions affecting both hands and both feet which would prevent reflexology of either hands or feet from taking place, including any of the following:

    • Deep vein thrombosis
    • Lymphedema
    • Infected or broken skin
    • Recent scars or injuries
    • Phlebitis
    • Areas currently receiving radiotherapy (or received radiotherapy in the past 2 weeks)
  • Able and willing to attend the hospital for four 1-hour sessions


  • See Disease Characteristics
  • At least 2 months since prior and no other concurrent massage therapy or reflexology at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust Hospital or from another practitioner
  • Not planning to undergo massage therapy or reflexology while also taking part in this study
  • At least 2 months since prior and no other concurrent massage therapy at the Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust Hospital
  Contacts and Locations
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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT01217424

United Kingdom
Royal Marsden - London
London, England, United Kingdom, SW3 6JJ
Sponsors and Collaborators
Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust
Principal Investigator: Clare Shaw, MD Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust
  More Information Identifier: NCT01217424     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: CDR0000686459
Study First Received: October 7, 2010
Last Updated: October 31, 2016

Keywords provided by National Cancer Institute (NCI):
psychosocial effects of cancer and its treatment
unspecified adult solid tumor, protocol specific processed this record on May 22, 2017