Effect of acupressure on constipation in patients with advanced cancer

  • Pei-Ming Wang
  • Ching-Wen Hsu
  • Chun-Ting Liu
  • Ting-Yu Lai
  • Fe-Ling Tzeng
  • Chih-Fang HuangEmail author
Original Article



Constipation is a common and distressing symptom for patients with advanced cancer. Few reports have focused on the symptoms of constipation in patients with advanced cancer. The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of a short-term acupressure intervention on patients with advanced cancer.


This study used a non-randomized, pre-post study design to assess the effect of acupressure intervention. A total of 30 patients with advanced cancer were recruited from the hospice unit of a medical center in southern Taiwan. In addition to routine care, patients in the intervention group received an 8-min acupressure treatment daily for 3 consecutive days. Three acupoints were used in this study: Zhongwan (CV12), Guanyuan (CV4), and Tianshu (ST25). Analysis of covariance was used to compare the differences in symptoms of constipation between the two groups, adjusted for baseline values. Effect sizes were calculated using partial eta squared (η2).


Significant improvements in symptoms of constipation (partial η2 = 0.40, p < 0.001 for straining during defecation; partial η2 = 0.30, p = 0.002 for hard stools; partial η2 = 0.42, p < 0.001 for sensation of incomplete evacuation; and partial η2 = 0.29, p = 0.002 for sensation of anorectal obstruction), Bristol stool form scale scores (partial η2 = 0.40, p < 0.001), comfort levels during defecation (partial η2 = 0.82, p < 0.001), and colonic motility (partial η2 = 0.85, p < 0.001) were observed in patients receiving acupressure intervention compared with the controls.


Findings from this study indicated that short-term acupressure was effective in alleviating symptoms of constipation among patients with advanced cancer. Further, randomized controlled trials are warranted to confirm the results.


Advanced cancer Constipation Acupressure Complementary medicine 



We thank Dr. Malcolm Koo for the statistical advice.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pei-Ming Wang
    • 1
  • Ching-Wen Hsu
    • 2
  • Chun-Ting Liu
    • 3
  • Ting-Yu Lai
    • 2
  • Fe-Ling Tzeng
    • 2
  • Chih-Fang Huang
    • 1
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Family MedicineKaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial HospitalKaohsiung CityTaiwan
  2. 2.Department of NursingKaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial HospitalKaohsiung CityTaiwan
  3. 3.Department of Chinese MedicineKaohsiung Chang Gung Memorial HospitalKaohsiung CityTaiwan
  4. 4.Department of Long Term CareChung Hwa University of Medical TechnologyTainan CityTaiwan

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