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Background: Acupressure is a non-pharmacological complementary treatment which uses fingers and applies pressure to stimulate
acupoints of human body. The non-invasive therapy has been documented to improve sleep quality and insomnia.
Purpose: The purpose of this systematic review is to understand the effectiveness of acupressure in improving sleep quality and to
review previous studies of acupressure in different clinical settings.
Method: A systematic review of English articles using the databases of MEDLINE, PubMed, and Cumulative Index to Nursing and
Allied Health Literature (CINAHL) was performed using the search terms of ‘‘acupressure’’ and “sleep”. The studies selected were those
published from January 1996 to November 2016 that met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. The inclusion criteria included human
beings (adults) and clinical trials. In addition, the exclusion criteria were studies for infants, children, adolescents; animal studies;
qualitative studies; doctoral dissertation and systematic reviews. The author screened the irrelevant contents based on the literature’s
abstracts and excluded combined therapies such as acupuncture, aromatherapy, massage, physical therapy, and medications.
Results: Nine studies were extracted and further reviewed the study designs, interventions of experimental and control groups, key
outcome measurements, statistical significance, and level of evidence. Seven randomized controlled trials (RCTs) were rated as 1b
and two pilot RCTs were classified as 2b. These nine randomized controlled trials explored the effectiveness of acupressure on sleep
problems for different populations such as the residents in long term care facilities, the seniors of nursing home, the patients with
hemodialysis and also the menopausal women. The primary outcome measurement was based on the scores of Pittsburg sleep quality
index, including subjective sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep duration, habitual sleep efficiency and sleep disturbance. The results
indicated that acupressure (experimental) groups have better sleep quality than sham acupressure (control) groups.
Ya-Wen Chen is a PhD candidate from Kaohsiung Medical University School of Nursing in Taiwan. She is also a Senior Lecturer and Clinical Instructor in the Department of Nursing, I-Shou University. She has published 14 papers in medical and nursing journals.
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