Objective: To investigate whether a combination of acupuncture and acupressure is effective for reducing chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.
Patients and methods: In a randomised cross-over trial, 28 patients receiving moderately or highly emetogenic chemotherapy and conventional standard antiemesis were treated for one chemotherapy cycle with a combination of acupuncture and acupressure at point P6 and for one cycle at a close sham point. The main outcome measure was a nausea score derived from daily intensity rating.
Results: There was no difference between combined acupuncture and acupressure treatment at P6 and at the sham point for the nausea score, but the level of nausea was very low in both phases. The mean nausea score was 6.2 (standard deviation 9.0) for treatment at P6 and 6.3 (9.1) for treatment at the sham point (mean difference -0.1, 95% confidence interval -3.9 to 3.7; p=0.96). Seventeen of 21 participants completing the study would desire acupuncture and acupressure for future chemotherapy cycles, but there was no clear preference for either point.
Conclusion: In this small pilot study a significant difference between treatment at P6 and a close sham point could not be detected. However, it cannot be ruled out that an existing difference was missed due to the small sample size.