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October 2021

A blinded investigation into the accuracy of refIexology charts

Author(s): Williamson, J., Hart, A., Ernst, E.

Abstract: Objectives: Reflexology is an increasingly popular complementary therapy in which parts of the body are deemed to be represented an the soles of the feet.The aim of this study was to investigate whether this representation can be used as a valid method of diagnosis. Methods:Three experienced reflexologists took part in this study. Eighteen adults with one or more of six specified conditions were identified from primary care records.Two reflexologists, who were blinded to the patients' conditions and monitored, then examined each patient's feet and rated the probability that each of the six conditions was present. Results:There is little evidence that the distribution of ratings vary with the status of the condition. Receiver operating curves suggest that this diagnostic method is very poor at distinguishing between the presence and absence of conditions. Inter-rater reliability (kappa) scores were very low, providing no evidence of agreement between the examiners. Conclusion: Despite certain limitations to the data provided by this study, the results do not suggest that reflexology techniques are a valid method of diagnosis.


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