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Can Self-Administered Acupressure Reduce Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors?

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Key Points

  • Both relaxing and stimulating acupressure improved fatigue vs usual care in breast cancer survivors.
  • However, only relaxing acupressure was associated with improved sleep quality and quality of life.

Self-administered relaxing acupressure and stimulating acupressure were both associated with reduced persistent fatigue vs usual care in breast cancer survivors, according to a randomized clinical trial reported by Zick et al in JAMA Oncology. However, only relaxing acupressure had significant effects on sleep quality and quality of life.

Study Details

In the single-blind trial, 270 evaluable survivors of stage 0 to III breast cancer with persistent fatigue were randomized to 6 weeks of daily self-administered relaxing acupressure (n = 94), stimulating acupressure (n = 90), or usual care (n = 86). Patients were taught to self-administer acupressure by trained acupressure educators. The primary outcome was change in the Brief Fatigue Inventory score from baseline to week 6 and after 4-week washout at week 10.

Improved Fatigue

Normal fatigue levels were achieved in 66.2% of the relaxing acupressure group, 60.9% of the stimulating acupressure group, and 31.3% of the usual care group at week 6 (P < .001 across groups) and maintained in 56.3%, 60.9%, and 30.1% at week 10 (P < .001 across groups), respectively. No significant difference was found between acupressure groups at either time point.

Assessment of sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) showed significant improvement with relaxing acupressure but not stimulating acupressure vs usual care at week 6, with no differences observed at week 10. Assessment of quality of life (Long-Term Quality of Life Instrument) showed significant improvement with relaxing acupressure but not stimulating acupressure vs usual care at weeks 6 and 10.

The investigators concluded: “Both acupressure arms significantly reduced persistent fatigue compared with usual care, but only relaxing acupressure had significant effects on sleep quality and quality of life. Relaxing acupressure offers a possible low-cost option for managing symptoms.”

The study was supported by the National Institutes of Health.

Suzanna M. Zick, ND, MPH, of the Department of Family Medicine, University of Michigan, is the corresponding author of the JAMA Oncology article.

The content in this post has not been reviewed by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, Inc. (ASCO®) and does not necessarily reflect the ideas and opinions of ASCO®.


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