Background: Caregiving can be stressful, potentially creating physical and psychological strain. Substantial evidence has shown that family caregivers suffer from significant health problems arising from the demands of caregiving. Although there are programs supporting caregivers, there is little evidence regarding their effectiveness. Acupressure is an ancient Chinese healing method designed to restore the flow of Qi (vital energy) by applying external pressure to acupoints. A randomized, wait-list controlled trial was developed to evaluate the effectiveness of a self-administered acupressure intervention on caregiver stress (primary objective) and stress-related symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, depression, and health-related quality of life (secondary objectives) in Chinese caregivers of older family members.
Methods: Two hundred Chinese participants, aged ≥ 21 years, who are the primary caregivers of an older family member and screen positive for caregiver stress and symptoms of fatigue/insomnia/depression will be recruited from a community setting in Hong Kong. Subjects will be randomized to receive either an immediate treatment condition (self-administered acupressure intervention) or a wait-list control condition. The self-administered acupressure intervention will include (i) an individual learning and practice session twice a week for 2 weeks, (ii) a home follow-up visit once a week for 2 weeks, and (iii) 15-min self-practice twice a day for 6 weeks. The wait-list control group will receive the same acupressure training after the intervention group has completed the intervention. We hypothesize that Chinese family caregivers in the intervention group will have lower levels of caregiver stress, fatigue, insomnia, depression, and higher health-related quality of life after completion of the intervention than participants in the wait-list control group.
Discussion: This study will provide evidence for the effectiveness of self-administered acupressure in reducing stress and improving symptoms of fatigue, insomnia, depression, and health-related quality of life in Chinese family caregivers. The findings will inform the design of interventions to relieve negative health effects of caregiving. Furthermore, the results can raise community awareness and serve as a basis for policymaking, planning, and allocation of resources regarding empowerment of family caregivers for self-care.
Trial registration: Current Controlled Trials NCT02526446 . Registered August 10, 2015.
Keywords: Acupressure; Caregiver stress; Chinese; Depression; Family caregivers; Fatigue; Health-related quality of life; Insomnia; Intervention; Randomized controlled trial (RCT); Self-administered acupressure.