Electroacupuncture Plus Auricular Acupressure for Chemotherapy-Associated Insomnia in Breast Cancer Patients: A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial

Integr Cancer Ther. 2021 Jan-Dec:20:15347354211019103. doi: 10.1177/15347354211019103.


Objective: Chemotherapy-associated insomnia is a highly prevalent complaint in breast cancer patients. This study was undertaken to evaluate the safety, feasibility, and preliminary effectiveness of electroacupuncture plus auricular acupressure for chemotherapy-associated insomnia in patients with breast cancer.

Materials and methods: In this randomized, wait-list controlled trial, thirty breast cancer patients under or post chemotherapy with insomnia were randomly allocated to the acupuncture or wait-list control group. Participants in acupuncture group received electroacupuncture plus auricular acupressure treatment twice weekly for 6 weeks. Participants in wait-list group received the same regimen of treatment after 6-week of waiting period. Insomnia Severity Index (ISI) served as the primary outcome measurement. Secondary outcomes were sleep parameters recorded with sleep diary and actiwatch, as well as the scores of Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS), and Functional Assessment of Cancer Therapy-Breast Cancer (FACT-B).

Results: Twenty-eight participants completed study (13 in the acupuncture group vs 15 in the wait-list control group). At week-6 post-intervention, ISI score change from baseline showed significant between-group difference favoring acupuncture group of -2.9 points (95% CI: -5.2 to -0.6, P = .014). The acupuncture group showed greater improvements in the total sleep time recorded by sleep diary (P = .026), scores of PSQI (P = .012), HADS-depression (P = .020), and FACT-B (P < .001) compared with the control group. Improvements were maintained at week-10 and week-14 follow-ups.

Conclusions: Acupuncture is safe, feasible, and effective for chemotherapy-associated insomnia in breast cancer patients under or post chemotherapy. A larger sample size randomized clinical trial is warranted to confirm the present findings.

Clinical trial registration: NCT03762694.

Keywords: auricular acupressure; breast cancer; chemotherapy-associated insomnia; electroacupuncture; wait-list controlled.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupressure*
  • Breast Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Electroacupuncture*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / chemically induced
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / therapy
  • Treatment Outcome

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT03762694