Acupoint Massage for Managing Cognitive Alterations in Older Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Fang Liu, Cuiling Shen, Liqun Yao, Zhuangmiao Li

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Cognitive disorders pose a major problem in the aging population across the globe. Acupoint massage has been used to improve cognitive functions in older adults. In this study, the authors performed a meta-analysis to evaluate the usefulness of acupoint massage in preventing cognitive declines in older adults. Design: The authors searched for randomized controlled trials (RCTs) reporting on the effectiveness of acupoint massage on cognition in older adults in the following literature databases: PubMed, MEDLINE, Embase, CINAHL, ScienceDirect, Foreign Medical Journal Service, Cochrane Library, VIP Information, Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, WANFANG, and Chinese Biomedical. Two reviewers independently extracted the data related to the study and participants' characteristics and the cognitive impairment outcomes. Only RCTs meeting the inclusion criteria were used in the present meta-analysis. Results: Eight RCTs with 657 participants in total (age ≥60 years) were included. It is actually 8 for synthetic and 6 in the meta-analysis. The authors calculated the pooled estimates of the random effects of changes in the Mini-Mental State Examination to compare the groups with and without acupoint massage. The merged mean difference (MD) was 1.94 (95% confidence interval, C.I., [1.41-2.47], p < 0.00001) after 3 months of acupoint massage treatment and 3.04 (95% C.I. [2.43-3.64], p < 0.00001) after 6 months of treatment. They also calculated the merged MD of the Wechsler Memory Scale-Revised Chinese version after 6 months of acupoint massage. Visual Reproduction was 2.95 (95% C.I. [1.30-4.60], p = 0.0005), Associate Learning was 1.89 (95% C.I. [1.41-2.37], p < 0.00001), Logical Memory was 2.85 (95% C.I. [2.06-3.63], p < 0.00001), and Digit Span was 3.16 (95% C.I. [2.59-3.73], p < 0.00001). The Cochrane Handbook for Systematic Reviews of Interventions was used to rate the quality of the studies, which was moderate overall. Conclusion: The findings suggested that acupoint massage is an effective intervention for maintaining cognitive functions in older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)532-540
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


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