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Keywords:

  • acupressure;
  • anxiety;
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease;
  • dyspnoea;
  • nursing;
  • ventilator

Aims.  This paper reports an investigation of the effects of acupressure therapy on dyspnoea, anxiety and physiological indicators of heart rate and respiratory rate in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease having mechanical ventilation support.

Background.  Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who are using mechanical ventilation often experience dyspnoea and anxiety, which affects successful ventilator use.

Methods.  The study had an experimental blocking design, using sex, age and length of ventilator use as a blocking factor. Qualified patients in two intermediate respiratory intensive care units were randomly assigned to an acupressure group and a comparison group. A total of 52 patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in northern Taiwan participated. Those in the experimental group received daily acupressure therapy and massage treatment for 10 days. Patients in the comparison group received massage treatment and handholding. The primary outcome measures were the visual analogue scales for dyspnoea and anxiety, and physiological indicators of heart rate and respiratory rate. Data were collected every day from baseline (day 1), during the treatment (days 2–10) and follow-up (days 11–17). Data were analysed using generalized estimation equations. The study was carried out in 2003.

Results.  Patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who were using prolonged mechanical ventilatory support experienced high levels of dyspnoea and anxiety. Dyspnoea (P = 0·009), anxiety (P = 0·011) and physiological indicators (P < 0·0001) in the acupressure group improved statistically significantly over time when compared with those of the comparison group.

Conclusions.  This results support the suggestion that acupressure therapy could decrease sympathetic stimulation and improve perceived symptoms of dyspnoea and anxiety in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease who are using prolonged mechanical ventilation.