Somatic acupoint stimulation for cancer-related sleep disturbance: A systematic review of randomized controlled trials

Xian-Liang Liu, Huilin Cheng, Simon Moss, Carol Chunfeng Wang, Catherine Turner, Jing-Yu Tan

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    Aim: The aim of this systematic review was to analyze and synthesize available evidence for the effects of somatic acupoint stimulation (SAS) on cancer-related sleep disturbance in adults with cancer. 

    Methods: Nine databases and four clinical trial registries were searched from their inception to July 2019 to identify potential articles and registered trials. Two authors independently extracted data and appraised the methodological quality of the included studies. The included studies could not be subjected to meta-analysis due to the significant variations in SAS intervention protocols and outcome measurement instruments. This systematic review therefore reported the results of the included trials narratively. 

    Results: Seven studies were identified, which involved 906 cancer patients. SAS protocols varied across trials without an optimal evidence-based standard intervention protocol to manage cancer-related sleep disturbance. Sanyinjiao (SP6) was the most commonly selected acupoint. Manual acupuncture was typically 15–30 min in duration and was conducted once a day or once a week for a period of 1–5 weeks, whereas self-administered acupressure was typically 1–3 min in duration per point and was conducted once a day, such as during night time before going to bed, for a period of 1–5 months. The results indicated that SAS could potentially relieve cancer-related sleep disturbance and improve quality of life. Mild adverse effects were reported in three of the included studies, but none of them performed a causality analysis to clarify the association between the reported adverse events and the intervention. 

    Conclusions: This systematic review showed that SAS is a useful approach to relieving cancer-related sleep disturbance. However, research evidence on SAS for managing cancer-related sleep disturbance has not been fully conclusive due to the limited number of existing clinical studies with relatively small sample size and suboptimal methodological quality. Clinical trials with large sample size and robust methodology are warranted in future research.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number2591320
    Pages (from-to)1-12
    Number of pages12
    JournalEvidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
    Publication statusPublished - Apr 2020


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