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Auricular Point Acupressure for Chronic Pain: A Feasibility Study of a 4-Week Treatment Protocol

Yeh, Chao Hsing PhD, RN; Chien, Lung-Chang DrPH; Huang, Li Chun MD; Suen, Lorna Kwai-Ping PhD, MPH, RN

doi: 10.1097/HNP.0000000000000027

This 1-group, 4-week observational study aimed to (1) assess the feasibility of recruiting, retention, and completion of a 4-week auricular point acupressure (APA) treatment protocol for chronic pain in adult patients and (2) assess the effects of APA in pain reduction (pain severity and pain interference) among these patients. The participants received a 4-week APA treatment protocol in weekly cycles. Each weekly cycle included 5 days with APA seeds taped onto the ear and 2 days without. Each participant was called every day to monitor adherence to the treatment protocol (the actual times the participant pressed the seeds each day and the duration of applied pressure), to answer analgesic use, and to answer the pain intensity questionnaire. Thirty participants were initially enrolled in this study, but 5 did not continue. The retention rate was 83% (n = 25). Approximately 60% of the participants (n = 15) adhered to the 4-week APA and completed all data assessments. At baseline assessment, only 40% of all participants (n = 12 of 30) were confident that APA would reduce and eliminate pain; nonetheless, all participants reported fewer episodes of pain occurrences and pain intensity with the APA treatment. For the participants who completed the 4-week APA protocol (n = 15), 96% (n = 14) decreased analgesic medication intake and 88% (n = 13) felt “much better” after the APA treatment. Participants reported an average reduction of 63% in the worst pain intensity at day 7. By the end of the 4-week APA protocol, an even greater reduction in pain intensity was reported (66%, n = 10, at day 28). The participants who did not complete the treatment protocol reported an average pain reduction of 29%, which fluctuated to 22% before they dropped out. Auricular point acupressure is feasible for patients with chronic pain. The preliminary findings of this feasibility study show a reduction in pain intensity and improvement in physical function, which demonstrate the potential for APA as a treatment option for patients with chronic pain.

School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (Dr Yeh); Division of Biostatistics, University of Texas School of Public Health at San Antonio Regional Campus, San Antonio, Texas and Research to Advance Community Health Center, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Regional Campus, San Antonio, Texas (Dr Chien); World Academy of Auricular Medicine, Hoover, Alabama (Dr Huang); and School of Nursing, Hong Kong Polytechnic University, HungHom, Hong Kong (Dr Suen).

Correspondence: Chao Hsing Yeh, PhD, RN, School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh, 3500 Victoria St, 440 Victoria Bldg, Pittsburgh, PA 15261 (

This study was supported by a grant given to Dr Yeh from the Center for Research and Evaluation (CRE) Pilot/Feasibility Study Program, School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh. The authors thank Brian Greene at the CRE for professional manuscript editing.

The authors have disclosed that they have no significant relationships with, or financial interest in, any commercial companies pertaining to this article.

© 2014 by Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins