IRI, Reflexology and Science
What counts as scientific research?
The IRI promotes scientific research about reflexology. Our policy is that to be considered “scientific” this research must be published in peer-reviewed journals, or as a book by a suitable publisher who will subject the manuscript to peer-review.
What is “peer-review”?
Peer-review is a process academic journals use to determine if a paper is of sufficient quality to be taken seriously by experts in the topic. Peer-review involves at least 2 experts reading the paper and writing reports about it. Their reports can recommend publication, modification or rejection. If modification is recommended, the author may resubmit after making the suggested changes. The new version of the paper is then reviewed again by the same experts. They may recommend further changes or acceptance. Sometimes a paper may go through this process three times.
Most peer-review is “blind.” Blind peer-review means the reviewers do not know who wrote it, and the writer does not know who the reviewers are. This is to stop people’s judgement being affected by who the others are, and to stop people getting upset with co-workers critiquing (or rejecting) their work.
Scientists, universities and journals will not accept any research which has not been peer-reviewed because it cannot be trusted.
Peer-review is not concerned with whether the research is true or correct. Reviewers are not bothered if they completely disagree with it. The criteria for assessment are that the writing is understandable, that the methods used can support the conclusion and that they were applied correctly. For example, if a paper claims to have discovered the average income in Dublin by asking Dublin taxi drivers what their average fare is, it is obvious that the method cannot support the conclusion. It really doesn’t matter what the paper says the average income is, even if they get it right, because the methodology is inappropriate – you can’t work out what wages people earn from what they pay for taxi rides. Even if the methodology is appropriate, it is not always applied correctly. For example, you could discover the average income in Dublin by surveying people’s wages. However, if you then only examined the wages of people working in shops, you would not be able to discover the average wage of shop workers, but it wouldn’t tell you anything about people in other jobs.
Correlation vs Cause
Another factor to watch for is the difference between correlation and cause. People often make this mistake. For example, people are taller than they were 100 years ago. 100 years ago people did not have electricity in their homes, but now they do. This does not mean electricity has caused people to grow taller. It merely means there is a correlation between electicity and height – in other words, both happened at the same time.
This is a particularly important in Reflexology research. For example, if a reflexology session results in lowered blood pressure, one needs to consider if this is simply because the client just had a relaxing rest during the session, not because they got a treatment. The way to show it was caused by reflexology would be to compare the change in blood pressure with people who had the same relaxing rest, but did not get a treatment. This is called a “control group.” If both groups get the same rest, but the reflexology clients show a bigger drop in blood pressure than the control group, you have shown that the reflexology is a cause, not merely a correlation.
Journals publishing research into reflexology
These days many journals publish peer-reviewed research papers that are relevant to Complementary Therapists, including reflexologists.
IRI only recommends “Open Access” research. This is research which is made freely available to all at no cost.
If anyone knows any other good journals containing research articles, please e-mail the link to firstname.lastname@example.org
The International Council of Reflexologists publish a Research Analysis Document (RAD) which is an independent Analysis of over 350 Research Studies from around the world. The RAD is available from email@example.com or 227 Dundas St. West, Paris, Ontario N3L 4H1 Canada.
The cost includes shipping and handling. ICR Members pay $60.00 US and non-members pay $80.00 US. Please allow up to 6 weeks for printing and shipping.
The following are additional references on research:
- Barnes A (1997) Past caring: nursing has a significant role in palliative care. Nursing Times. 93, 34, 54.
- Berker M (1993) Is chest pain affected by reflexology intervention? In Walker K (1998) Reflexology Research Reports. London, Association of Reflexologists.
- Booth B (1994) Reflexology. ursingTimes. 90, l, 38-40.
- Bridgeman H, Carr E (1998) Providing family care in hospital. Nursing Times. 94, 1, 44.
- Bruera E, Lawlor P (1998) Defining Palliative care interventions. Journal of Palliative Care. I4, 2, 23-24.
- Bullinger M (1992) Quality of life assessment in palliative care. Journal of Palliative Care. 8, 3, 34-39.
- Cancerlink (l993) Complementary Care and Cancer. London, Cancerlink.
- Cella D (1992) Quality of life: the concept. Journal of Palliative Care. 8, 3, 13.
- China Reflexology Association (1996) China ReflexoIogy Symposium Report. Beijing, China Reflexology Association.
- Cole A, Shanley E (1998) Complementary therapies as a means of developing the scope of professional nursing practice. Journal of Advanced Nursing. 27, 1171-1176.
- Corner J et al (1995) An evaluation of the use of massage and essential oils on the wellbeing of cancer patients. International Journal of Palliative Nursing. 1, 2, 67-73.
- Dobbs B (1985) Alternative health approaches. Nursing Mirror. 160, 9, 41-42.
- Donaldson M (1992) Cancer Reflexions. August, 12.
- Flocco B (1992) Reflexology and pre-menstrual syndrome. Reflexions. March, 6-9.
- Fosholt U (1992) Asthma and reflexology. (Translated from the Danish.) Mit Helbred (My Health). July, 10.
- Foundation for Integrated Medicine (1998) A New Vision for Healthcare. London, The Foundation for Integrated Medicine.
- Frankel BSM (1997) The effect of reflexology on baroreceptor reflex sensitivity, blood pressure and sinus arrhythmia.
- Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 5, 80-84.
- Gillard Y (1995) Reflexology and radiotherapy. Footprints. July, 6-17.
- Hawthorn J(1993) Measuring quality of life. European Journal of Cancer Care. 2, 77-81.
- Holmes S, Dickerson J (1987) The quality of life: design and evaluation of a self-assessment instrument for use in cancer patients. International Journal of Nursing Studies. 24, 15-24.
- Holmes S et al (1997) General nurses’ perceptions of palliative care. International Journal of Palliative Nursing. 3, 2, 92-99.
- Joyce M, Richardson R (1997) Reflexology can help MS. International Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. 15, 7, 10-12.
- Kean S (1992) Cancer. Reflexions. October, 12.
- Lockett J (1992) Reflexology – a nursing tool? The Australian Nursing Journal. 22, 1, 14-15.
- Long Yun L (1993) Foot Reflex Zone Massage Alleviates SymptomsInduced by Chemotherapy in Pulmonary
- Malignant Tumour Patients. Beijing, China Reflexology Symposium Report, China Reflexology Association.
- NHS Confederation (1997) Complementary Medicine in the NHS – Managing the Issues. Birmingham, The NHS Confederation.
- Norman L, Cowan T (1989) The Reflexology Handbook. London, Piatkus.
- Oleson T, Flocco W (1993) Randomised controlled study of pre-menstrual symptoms treated with ear, hand and foot reflexology. Obstetrics and Gynaecology. 82, 6, 906-911.
- Primarolo D (1994) Facilitation not Prescription. London, Labour Party.
- Reilly DT (1983) Young doctors’ views on alternative medicine. BritishMedical Journal. July, 287, 337-339.
- Rihal P (1992) Cancer. Reflexions. August, 11.
- Stanhope-Williamson B (1996) Breast cancer reflections. June, 17.
- Stevensen C (1996) Complementary therapies in cancer care: an NHS approach. International JournaI of Palliative Nursing. 2, 1, 15-18.
- Trousdell P (1996) Reflexology meets emotional needs. International Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine. November, 9-13.
- United Kingdom Central Council for Nursing, Midwifery and Health Visiting (1996) Guidelines For Professional Practice. London, UKCC.
- Vickers A (1998) Evidence-based medicine and complementary medicine. Evidence-based Medicine. Nov/Dec, 168-169.
- Walker K (1998) Reflexology Research Reports. London, Association of Reflexologists.
- Walsh E, Wilson C (1999) Complementary therapies in longstay neurology in-patient settings. Nursing Standard. 13, 2, 32-35.
- Wang XM (1993) Treating type II diabetes mellitus with foot reflexology (Chinese). Chung-Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih. 13, 9, 536-538.
- Wang-Liang (1996) An exploration of the clinical indications of foot reflexology. A retrospective analysis of its clinical application to 8096 cases.
- China Reflexology Association (1996) China Reflexology Symposium Report. Beijing, China Reflexology Association.
- Yue-Ying (1996) Foot Reflexology in the Treatment of Obstinate Constipation. Beijing International Reflexology Conference. Chinese Society of Reflexology.
- Zhao C (1996) Experience of Foot Massage Therapy Used for Habitual Constipation. Beijing International Reflexology Conference. Chinese Society of Reflexology.
- Zhi-gin D (1993) Foot Reflexology Therapy Applied to Patients withNon-insulin Dependent Diabetic Mellitus. China Reflexology Symposium Report. Beijing, China Reflexology Association.