Tohoku J. Exp. Med., 2021 July, 254(3)

High Feasibility and Safety, but Negligible Efficacy of Acupressure for Treating Nausea in Cancer Patients Admitted to the Palliative Care Unit: A Pilot Study

Hiroyuki Tsugita,1 Maho Aoyama,1 Noriaki Satake,1 Makoto Saito,2 Yusuke Hiratsuka,1 Akira Inoue,1 Shin Takayama3,4 and Mitsunori Miyashita1

1Department of Palliative Nursing, Health Sciences, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
2Division of Nursing, Tohoku University Hospital, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
3Department of Education and Support for Regional Medicine, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan
4Department of Kampo Medicine, Tohoku University Hospital, Sendai, Miyagi, Japan

Management of nausea is an important dimension of palliative care. The first choice for treating nausea is antiemetics, but their efficacy is inadequate. Acupressure intervention for nausea in cancer patients has been studied as a non-pharmacological therapy, and appears to have had some effect. However, such a therapy has not been well reviewed in patients with terminal cancer. The purpose of this study was to clarify the feasibility of acupressure intervention and examine its safety and preliminary efficacy. We recruited cancer patients that fulfilled the eligibility criteria and were admitted to the palliative care unit, from August 2018 to February 2019, in Tohoku University Hospital, Japan. We conducted a longitudinal assessment of acupressure intervention in a single arm. We identified the patient's research accomplishments and evaluated possible fainting due to the vagal reflex and symptom severity. Descriptive statistics were used to calculate the completion rate for the feasibility and Wilcoxon signed-rank tests to compare the average of continuous variables for the safety and efficacy. Twelve patients participated in this study and completed the procedure. Their average age was 70 years (SD = 9.3), and the most common primary cancer sites were the rectum and pancreas. The blood pressure and pulse rate did not drop sharply. Four patients exhibited decreased nausea but there was no statistically significant difference (P = 0.5). We suggested that acupressure has high feasibility and safety, as an intervention for patients with terminal cancer. However, no significant differences were observed regarding its effect on nausea.

Key words —— acupressure; nausea; nursing; palliative care; vomiting


Tohoku J. Exp. Med 2021, 254, 155-161.

Correspondence: Hiroyuki Tsugita, R.N., Department of Palliative Nursing, Health Sciences, Tohoku University Graduate School of Medicine, 2-1 Seiryo-machi, Aoba-ku, Sendai, Miyagi 980-8575, Japan.