Effect of self-acupressure for symptom management: a systematic review

Complement Ther Med. 2015 Feb;23(1):68-78. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2014.11.002. Epub 2014 Dec 4.


Objectives: To assess the efficacy and safety of self-administered acupressure to alleviate symptoms of various health problems, including allergic disease, cancer, respiratory disease, dysmenorrhea, perceived stress, insomnia, and sleep disturbances.

Methods: We searched core, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese databases, including Ovid-MEDLINE, Ovid-EMBASE, the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL), the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), six representative electronic Korean medical databases, China National Knowledge Infrastructure (CNKI), and Japan Science and Technology Information Aggregator (J-STAGE). We included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-RCTs that examined disease-specific effects or symptom relief, adverse reactions, and quality-of-life (QOL) for self-administered acupressure. Data collection and assessment of the methodological quality of the included studies were conducted by two independent reviewers.

Results: Eight RCTs and two quasi-RCTs showed positive effects and safety of self-acupressure therapy in clinically diverse populations. Quality assessment revealed moderate quality for the RCTs, with 50% or more of the trials assessed as presenting a low risk of bias in seven domains. All of the selected 10 studies reported positive effects for primary outcomes of self-acupressure therapy for symptom management, including significant improvements in symptom scores in allergic disease, nausea and vomiting in cancer, symptom scores in respiratory disease, pain symptoms in dysmenorrhea, and stress/fatigue scores and sleep disturbances in healthy people.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that self-administered acupressure shows promise to alleviate the symptoms of various health problems. Therefore, further research with larger samples and methodologically well-designed RCTs is required to establish the efficacy of self-administered acupressure.

Keywords: Acupressure; Self-administration; Signs and Symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Acupressure / methods*
  • Disease Management
  • Humans
  • Quality of Life
  • Self Care / methods*