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Does acupressure help reduce nausea and vomiting in palliative care patients? A double blind randomised controlled trial
  1. Paul Perkins1,2,
  2. Anne Parkinson1,
  3. Rebecca Parker1,
  4. Alison Blaken3 and
  5. Ralph K Akyea4
  1. 1Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK
  2. 2Palliative Medicine, Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, UK
  3. 3St Elizabeth Hospice, Ipswich, UK
  4. 4Division of Primary Care, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Paul Perkins, Leckhampton Court Hospice, Cheltenham GL53 0QJ, UK; paul.perkins{at}


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

Statistics from


  • Contributors PP conceived the study and designed it along with AB. AP collected most of the data along with BD. RKA was responsible for data analysis. All authors critically revised drafts of the paper. PP is the guarantor.

  • Funding Sea-Band Ltd provided active and placebo wristbands free of charge. The study was funded by Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice Research Department.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by Gloucestershire Research Support Service, the Sue Ryder Research Governance Group, the National Research Ethics Service Committee East of England – Cambridge East.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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 Unpublished data are held by Sue Ryder Leckhampton Court Hospice.

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