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Virtual acupressure for symptom management in cancer populations during COVID-19: a retrospective analysis

HumanInsight Virtual acupressure for symptom management in cancer populations during COVID-19: a retrospective analysis

Support Care Cancer. 2023 Apr 25;31(5):300. doi: 10.1007/s00520-023-07766-8.


OBJECTIVE: Following the outbreak of COVID-19, access to in-person oncology acupuncture service was temporarily disrupted at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-designated cancer center. During this period, a virtual acupuncturist-guided session of patient self-acupressure was implemented to provide continuity of supportive care for cancer patients. We provide preliminary findings on the feasibility and potential impact of remotely delivered acupressure on patient-reported symptom burden in cancer populations.

METHODS: This is a retrospective chart review of cancer patients who received virtual acupressure service at a single academic cancer center from May 11 to December 31, 2020. Each telehealth session consisted of a one-on-one appointment between the patient and acupuncturist. A semi-standardized set of acupoints were used, including Yintang, ST36, GB20, PC6, and HT7 as well as Relaxation Point on the ear. At the start of each session, Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS) was used to collect patient-reported symptom burden. For patients with at least one follow-up within 14 days of the baseline visit, paired t-test was used to analyze changes in ESAS scores from baseline to first follow-up.

RESULTS: A total of 102 virtual acupressure sessions were administered to 32 patients. Most patients were females (90.6%) and white (84.4%), and the mean age was 55.7 (range = 26-82; SD = 15.7). The most common cancer diagnosis was breast (53.1%), followed by pancreatic (12.5%) and lung (9.4%). Baseline ESAS Total, Physical, and Emotional scores were 21.5 (SD = 11.1), 12.4 (SD = 7.5), and 5.2 (SD = 3.8), respectively. Of 32 patients, 13 (41%) had a second acupressure session within 14 days. For these 13 patients, there was a statistically significant reduction in Total symptom burden (-4.9 ± 7.6; p = 0.04) and in Physical (-3.5 ± 5.4; p = 0.04) and Emotional (-1.2 ± 1.8; p = 0.03) subscales from baseline to follow-up.

CONCLUSION: Virtual acupressure was associated with significant reduction in symptom burden among cancer patients from their baseline to follow-up visits. Larger scale randomized clinical studies are needed to confirm these findings and better understand the impact of virtual acupressure on symptom burden in cancer populations.

PMID:37097505 | DOI:10.1007/s00520-023-07766-8

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