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J Tradit Complement Med. 2016 Dec 3;7(3):327-331. doi: 10.1016/j.jtcme.2016.08.008. eCollection 2017 Jul.

Perspectives on reflexology: A qualitative approach.

Author information

Faculty of Pharmacy, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Puncak Alam, Selangor, Malaysia.
School of Pharmacy, Taylor's University (Lakeside Campus), Subang Jaya, Malaysia.
Vector-borne Diseases Research Group (VERDI), Pharmaceutical and Life Sciences CoRe, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia.
Non-Destructive Biomedical and Pharmaceutical Research Centre, iPROMISE, Universiti Teknologi MARA, Puncak Alam, Selangor, Malaysia.



Reflexology is the systematic practice of applying some pressure to particular points on the feet and hands to impact on health of related parts of the body.


To explore the practitioners' perspectives of reflexology in Malaysia.


Data was collected using face-to-face semi-structured interviews with practitioners in Malaysia. The interviews were conducted in the Malay language and recorded. Interview conversations were translated and transcribed verbatim. Responses relating to different themes were identified in each of the interviews and a coding frame was developed. For each theme, the relevant data enabled a description of the range of views and experiences. Data collection and analysis were conducted concurrently and recruitment was stopped when saturation had been reached. All respondents gave written consent for their participation.


The findings show that reflexology treatment nowadays has been accepted as one of the ways to maintain general health. Practitioners believe that reflexology is able to detect some problems in to the body, which can make patients aware of a health condition and seek further treatment. However, if reflexology is not performed correctly, it may cause negative effects such as pain and bruises. Some practitioners voiced concern that illegal activities are taking place in unethical reflexology centers.


Empowering the practitioner as a professional would help gain the public's trust and confidence in their treatment. Strict enforcement of regulation related to illegal conduct in reflexology centers will improve people's perception of the practice.


Complementary and alternative medicine; Foot massage; Pain management; Professionalism; Reflexology; Treatment effect

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