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Does acupressure help reduce nausea and vomiting in palliative care patients? A double blind randomised controlled trial


Introduction Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms for patients with advanced cancer. While there is evidence for acupuncture point stimulation for treatment of these symptoms for patients having anticancer treatment, there is little for when they are not related to such treatment.

Objective To determine whether acupressure at the pericardium 6 site can help in the treatment of nausea and vomiting suffered by palliative care patients with advanced cancer.

Materials and methods Double blind randomised controlled trial—active versus placebo acupressure wristbands. In-patients with advanced cancer in two specialist palliative care units who fitted either or both of the following criteria were approached: Nausea that was at least moderate; Vomiting daily on average for the prior 3 days.

Results 57 patients were randomised to have either active or placebo acupressure wristbands. There was no difference in any of the outcome measures between the two groups: change from baseline number of vomits; Visual Analogue Scale for ‘did acupressure wristbands help you to feel better?’; total number of as needed doses of antiemetic medication; need for escalation of antiemetics.

Conclusions In contrast to a previously published feasibility study, active acupressure wristbands were no better than placebo for specialist palliative care in-patients with advanced cancer and nausea and vomiting.

  • nausea and vomiting
  • complementary therapy

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Unpublished data are held by Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice.

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