Journal Articles

Publication Date



Integrative Cancer Therapies


PURPOSE: The study aimed to (1) examine the feasibility of providing a training course on auricular point acupressure (APA) for clinical oncology nurses to integrate APA into real-world nursing care settings, and (2) examine the effectiveness of APA on cancer-related pain (CRP) under usual inpatient oncology ward conditions.

METHODS: This was a 2-phase feasibility study. Phase 1, an in-person, 8 hour training program was provided to oncology nurses. Phase 2, a prospective and feasibility study was conducted to evaluate the integration of APA into nursing care activities to manage CRP. Oncology patients were included if their pain was rated at ≥4 on a 0 to 10 numeric rating scale in the past 24 hours. Patients received 1 APA treatment administered by the nurses and were instructed to stimulate the points for 3 days. Study outcomes (pain intensity, fatigue, and sleep disturbance), pain medication use, and APA practice were measured by a phone survey daily.

RESULTS: Ten oncology nurses received APA training in phase 1. APA had been added to the hospital's electronic health records (EHRs) as a pain treatment. In phase 2, 33 oncology patients received APA treatment with a 100% adherence rate (pressing the seeds 3 times per day, 3 minutes per time based on the suggestion). The side effects of APA were minimal (~8%-12% felt tenderness on the ear). After 3 days of APA, patients reported 38% pain relief, 39% less fatigue, and 45% improvement in sleep disturbance; 24% reduced any type of pain medication use and 19% reduced opioid use (10 mg opioids using milligram morphine equivalent). The major barrier to integrating APA into routine nursing practice was time management (how to include APA in a daily workflow).

CONCLUSION: It is feasible to provide 8-hour training to oncology nurses for mastering APA skill and then integrating APA into their daily nursing care for patients with CRP. Based on the promising findings (decreased pain, improved fatigue and sleep disturbance, and less opioid use), the next step is to conduct a randomized clinical trial with a larger sample to confirm the efficacy of APA for oncology nurses to treat CRP in real-world identifier number: NCT04040140.


Humans, Acupressure, Analgesics, Opioid, Cancer Pain, Fatigue, Feasibility Studies, Neoplasms, Prospective Studies, Treatment Outcome



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