Alison Clarke – Assistant Psychologist at Honan and Associates and Research Assistant , Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin

    • Alison Clarke – Assistant Psychologist at Honan and Associates and Research Assistant , Our Lady’s Hospital Crumlin's presentations

    Since graduating with a Psychology degree and MSc in Psychological Science Alison has worked as an Assistant Psychologist in St. John of God services and in the Rutland Addiction Centre. Alison currently works in Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital evaluating the effectiveness of reflexology in reducing symptoms in children/adolescents with cancer.



    Title: Challenges in conducting a Randomised Control Trial (RCT) of Reflexology in Children and Adolescents with Cancer: the experience to date

    Introduction: Children and adolescents with cancer are at risk of experiencing distress as a result of their cancer diagnosis, treatment and necessary but uncomfortable treatment-related procedures (Woodgate & McClement, 1998). Pain, nausea, sadness, worry, lack of appetite, fatigue and vomiting have been found to cause the most significant distress in the context of treatment related distress. Reflexology involves the stimulation of reflex points by massaging feet, hands and ears, which are regions of the body believed to correspond to specific body organs and systems (Özdelikara & Tan, 2017). Despite previous findings highlighting the popularity of reflexology among children with cancer (Post-White et al., 2009), there is a dearth of research on the impact of reflexology on children and adolescents with cancer (Zuzak, et al., 2014).

    Study Aim: To explore the perceptions of children/adolescents with cancer and their parents/guardians regarding the effectiveness of reflexology for reducing symptoms (primarily distress) related to their diagnosis and/or treatment.

    Method: All children and adolescents aged between 7 and 18 years of age currently attending a national children’s hospital for cancer treatment (and their parents/guardians) are being invited to participate in a RCT study using a Mixed Between Group Repeated Measures (2 group X 8 time) design. 96 children/adolescents will be randomised to either reflexology or non-specific foot massage. Study measures include the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale (Child and Adolescent versions) and semi-structured interview guides.

    Outcomes: Data collection commenced in July 2016, and to date 51 patients have been recruited. This presentation will provide an overview of the study aim and design and reflect on study progress to date, with particular reference to the challenges related to recruitment and data collection in this context.

    Conclusion: Challenges to recruitment and data collection are primarily of a logistical, practical and ethical nature.

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