Objectives: Acupuncture and acupressure are known to relieve symptoms associated with asthma, but the benefits to patients with chronic obstructive asthma have not been fully evaluated. In this pilot clinical study, acupuncture or acupressure was incorporated into the standard care for adult patients with chronic obstructive asthma to determine their contribution to the improvement of their quality of life and relief of symptoms.
Design: A prospective, randomized study that involved 8 weeks of treatment at Chang Gung Memorial Hospital (Tao-Yuan, Taiwan) was conducted between March 1997 and September 1998. Forty-one (n = 41) patients with chronic obstructive asthma were enrolled. Patients were randomly assigned to receive acupuncture in addition to standard care (n = 11), acupressure and standard care (n = 17), or standard care alone (n = 13). Twenty (20) acupuncture treatments were administered, and self-administered acupressure was performed daily for 8 weeks. Six-minute walking, the Dyspnea Visual Analogue Scale, the modified Borg scale, St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ), and the Bronchitis Emphysema Symptom Checklist (BESC) were used at the beginning and end of the 8 weeks of treatment.
Results: The total SGRQ score of acupuncture subjects showed an average 18.5-fold improvement (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.54-211.48, p = 0.02); the improvement for the acupressure subjects was 6.57-fold (95% C.I. 0.98-44.00, p = 0.05). Additionally, for patients who received acupressure, the irritability domain score determined by the BESC exhibited an 11.8-fold improvement (95% C.I. 0.88-158.64, p = 0.06) after adjustment for covariables. The other variables did not differ from those of the controls.
Conclusions: Patients with clinically stable, chronic obstructive asthma experienced clinically significant improvements in quality of life when their standard care was supplemented with acupuncture or acupressure.