Royal College of Nursing Cancer Nursing Practice journal publishes service evaluation of reflexology at UK NHS Dorset County Hospital cancer service.

I am extremely pleased and proud to announce the publication in May 2023 of “Patients’ experiences of clinical foot reflexology in a hospital cancer service” (Abbigail Langstone-Wring and Judith Whatley) in the Royal College of Nursing (RCNi) Cancer Nursing Practice (cnp) journal (Evidence & Practice ). A fitting end to my professional relationship with DCHFT and the Fortuneswell Cancer Trust. The Open Access external double-blind peer reviewed article was informed by data evidence from NHS DCHFT Clinical Reflexology Clinical Audit ( registration number  4923 ) of 2078 reflexology/oncology patient data collected 2019-2020 at three clinical sites within Dorset County Hospital. The route to publication in such a high-ranking nursing journal was complex. My colleague and I could have submitted to other journals but out of respect for all the patients who accessed the reflexology service at the hospital and support shown to the service by nursing staff from the service inception in 2014 we felt it appropriate to publish in RCNi cnp. The processes involved from submission to peer review were complicated and subsequent editing was emotionally quite painful at times. We both were under pressure to amend and re-send several versions before reaching final draft stage. All that being said the published end result was well worth all the effort. Local charities/support groups Fortuneswell Cancer Trust : Ducks and Drakes Cancer Trust : The Living Tree : C Siders : New Man Prostate Cancer Support  have been informed of publication. To read the full freely available article click here.

Coming from a non-nursing background undertaking a clinical audit was daunting, stressful and a time-consuming endeavour. I voluntarily took up the necessary challenge of this task to provide evidence that complementary therapies can be effective in NHS clinical settings. I wish to thank DCHFT audit department for their technical support and patience without which I couldn’t have completed my task. The important audit patient feedback data helped shape the service to what it is to-day. Highly valued by patients the service operates Monday to Friday mornings at three sites in a NHS secondary care cancer service. To ensure sustainability of an externally funded service operating within the NHS safety, quality and cost effectiveness is constantly monitored. As a patient focused service, capturing patient experience data has shown to be an effective method of identifying service strengths and weaknesses from the service users perspective. Giving patients a voice to express how they rate a service, how they benefit from it ( or not) and where changes might be made is vital to ensure needs are being met and that funding applications are evidenced based.

This service model of the complementary therapy Clinical Reflexology was found to be safe, therapeutic and beneficial, cost effective, sustainable and transferable. Using a combined consent/evaluation form patients were invited to identify their physical or psychological concern (symptom) and the effectiveness of the therapy was measured using a before and after numerical scale. The highest rated concern was anxiety followed by pain, swelling and peripheral neuropathy.

All patients appointed a lower number to their concern ( symptom ) following  reflexology.

The article concludes that Clinical Foot reflexology can offer patients with cancer relief from symptoms associated with their condition or cancer treatment……… …what more needs to be said !

I hope the publication will add gravitas to the reflexology service DCHFT, support future funding, inspire other complementary therapists and be of interest to other health care providers.

To view the research PDF, please click here.