Wednesday, 19 July 2006
This presentation is part of : Palliative Care Issues and Studies
Efficacy of Reflexology as a Palliative Treatment in Nursing Home Residents with Dementia: A Pilot Study
Nancy A. Hodgson, RN, PhD, CS1, Susan Andersen, BS2, and Heather Felker2. (1) Madlyn and Leonard Abramson Center for Jewish Life, Polisher Research Institute, North Wales, PA, USA, (2) Reseach, Polisher Research Institute (formerly the Philadelphia Geriatric Center), Horsham, PA, USA
Learning Objective #1: Identify three biomarkers of physiologic stress in the physically and cognitively frail older population.
Learning Objective #2: Describe the effects of a reflexology intervention in a nursing home population.

INTRODUCTION: Alternative therapies may offer great promise in treating distress in older adults with dementia without the side effects of pharmaceuticals.  A growing body of anecdotal literature suggests that reflexology may be an effective treatment for older adults with dementia, appearing to relieve pain and improve psychological well being. 

METHODS: This experimental repeated-measures study of 80 subjects (40 control and 40 experimental) with mild to moderate dementia randomized to experimental and control groups was designed to test the efficacy of reflexology as an alternative and complementary therapy in nursing home residents with mild to moderate dementia. The reflexology sessions and control group intervention was provided by a trained reflexology therapist once a week for 4 weeks, and lasted 30 minutes each.  Physiologic stress was assessed using blood pressure, heart rate, and salivary measures of cortisol, alpha amyase and DHEA.  Measures of pain, anxiety and depression were assessed using standardized indexes by trained data collectors blind to subject group assignment.

RESULTS: Analysis of variance for repeated measures demonstrated a significantly greater decrease in symptoms of pain, depression and physiologic measures of stress for the residents given reflexology treatment than for those in the control group. CONCLUSION: These clinical findings support the use of reflexology in nursing home residents with mild/moderate dementia.

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