The effects of acupressure on the incidence of postoperative nausea and vomiting in postsurgical patients

J Perianesth Nurs. 2001 Jun;16(3):158-62. doi: 10.1053/jpan.2001.24040.


Postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) is one of the most common postoperative complications. Aside from pharmacological interventions, other complementary healing modalities have been introduced to assist patients in decreasing PONV and improving postoperative outcomes. This study examined acupressure as a potentially holistic and safe complement to the more traditional approach of using drugs to prevent and/or relieve nausea and vomiting in the postoperative patient. Acupressure involves constant pressure (without puncture of the skin) on the Nei Guan acupuncture points through the use of a British product called Sea-Bands (Sea Band UK Ltd, Leics, England). These bands are made of elasticated fabric, with a small round plastic button inside. A quasi-experimental research design was used to examine the effects of unilateral and bilateral application of acupressure on 157 patients who are prone to PONV: postgynecological, postplastic, and posturological surgery patients. The incidence of PONV was determined through retrospective chart reviews. The hypothesis was that there would be a difference in the incidence of PONV between 5 groups: group 1 (Sea-Bands with acupressure on both wrists), group 2 (Sea-Bands with acupressure on one wrist), group 3 (wristband without acupressure on both wrists), group 4 (wristband without acupressure on one wrist), and group 5 (no wristband). This hypothesis was examined by using a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA); it was not supported. Neither unilateral nor bilateral application of acupressure significantly affected the incidence of nausea and vomiting. These findings must be viewed with caution, however, because power analysis showed low effect sizes and an inadequate sample size. Further research is recommended with a larger sample size. This study has made perianesthesia nurses more aware of other complementary modalities to assist patients with nausea and vomiting.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Acupressure / instrumentation
  • Acupressure / methods*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Effect Modifier, Epidemiologic
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Middle Aged
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / epidemiology
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / etiology
  • Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting / prevention & control*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Treatment Outcome