Is Palliative Acupressure Beneficial for Patients with Advanced Cancer?

Pavankumar Kamat

October 21, 2020

According to a new study, acupressure wristbands were no better than placebo for palliative care in patients with advanced cancer experiencing nausea and vomiting. The findings were published in  BMJ Supportive & Palliative Care.

In a double-blind, randomised controlled trial, patients with advanced cancer in two specialist palliative care units in the UK were randomly assigned to either active acupressure wristbands (n=30) or placebo wristbands (n=27). Outcomes were assessed over a period of three days.

The active versus placebo groups showed no significant differences in primary outcomes, i.e., change from the baseline number of vomits (P=.9288), Visual Analogue Scale for "did acupressure wristbands help you to feel better?" (P=.7528), total doses of 'as needed' antiemetic medication (P=.1317) and need for escalation of antiemetics (P=.957). The most common adverse event was the bands feeling too tight, which led to one discontinuation in each arm before day three.

The authors concluded: "For now, we will advocate the use of wristbands only for those palliative care patients who are keen to try an intervention that does not involve drugs with the explanation that there is little evidence to support their use."

Perkins P, Parkinson A, Parker R, Blaken A, Akyea RK. Does acupressure help reduce nausea and vomiting in palliative care patients? A double blind randomised controlled trial. BMJ Support Palliat Care. 2020 Oct 08 [Epub ahead of print]. doi: 10.1136/bmjspcare-2020-002434. PMID: 33033062 View abstract

This article originally appeared on Univadis, part of the Medscape Professional Network.

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