An evidence-based somatic acupressure intervention protocol for managing the breast cancer fatigue-sleep disturbance-depression symptom cluster: Development and validation following the Medical Research Council framework

Jing-Yu Tan, Alison Wang, Isabella Zhao, Mary Polotan, Sabina Eliseeva

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Abstract

Background: Somatic acupoint stimulation (SAS) has been frequently utilised as a promising intervention for individual cancer-related symptom management, such as fatigue, sleep disturbance and depression. However, research evidence regarding the role of SAS in mitigating the fatigue-sleep disturbance-depression symptom cluster (FSDSC) has been scant. This study was conducted to develop an evidence-based SAS intervention protocol that can be further implemented in a Phase II randomized controlled trial (RCT) to manage the FSDSC in breast cancer survivors. Methods: The Medical Research Council Framework for Developing and Evaluating Complex Intervention (MRC framework) was employed to guide the development procedures of the SAS intervention protocol, including the identification of an existing evidence base, the identification of theories and practice standards, and the validation of the SAS intervention protocol. A content validity study was performed through an expert panel to assess the scientific and practical appropriateness of the SAS intervention protocol. The content validity index (CVI), including item-level CVI and protocol-level CVI, were calculated to evaluate the consensus level of the expert panel. Results: Key components of the SAS protocol, including the acupoint formula, the SAS modality, technique, intensity and frequency were identified for both a true and placebo SAS intervention based on the best available research evidence retrieved from systematic reviews, clinical trials, and relevant theories, particularly regarding the inflammatory process, yin-yang theory, zang-fu organs and meridians theory, and acupressure practical standards. The true SAS intervention was determined as daily self-administered acupressure on specific acupoints for seven weeks. The placebo SAS was designed as light acupressure on non-acupoints with the same frequency and duration as the true SAS. Excellent content validity was achieved after one round of expert panel assessment, with all the key components of the true and placebo SAS protocols rated as content valid (CVI ranged from 0.86 to 1.00). Conclusions: A research-informed, theory-driven and practically feasible SAS intervention protocol for the FSDSC management in breast cancer survivors was developed following the MRC framework. The feasibility and acceptability of the SAS intervention will be further tested in breast cancer survivors through a Phase II RCT.
Original languageEnglish
Article number11934
Pages (from-to)1-13
Number of pages13
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume19
Issue number19
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2022

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