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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014, Article ID 375173, 11 pages
Research Article

Auricular Point Acupressure to Manage Chronic Low Back Pain in Older Adults: A Randomized Controlled Pilot Study

1School of Nursing, University of Pittsburgh, 3500 Victoria Street, 440 Victoria Building, Pittsburgh, PA 15261, USA
2Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, School of Medicine, Veterans Administration, Pittsburgh Healthcare System, Geriatric Research, Education and Clinical Center, 230 McKee Place Suite 600, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
3Division of Biostatistics, University of Texas, School of Public Health at San Antonio Regional Campus and Research to Advance Community Health Center, University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Regional Campus, 7411 John Smith Drive, Suite 1050 Room 505, San Antonio, TX 78229, USA
4School of Nursing, Fudan University, 305 Fenglin Road, Shanghai, China
5School of Nursing, Suzhou Health College, No. 28 Kehua Road Northern District of Suzhou International Education Park, Suzhou, China
6Departments of Psychiatry, Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, School of Medicine, University of Pittsburgh, 3811 O’Hara Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA
7School of Nursing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Received 20 February 2014; Revised 13 May 2014; Accepted 21 May 2014; Published 24 July 2014

Academic Editor: Karen J. Sherman

Copyright © 2014 Chao Hsing Yeh et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


This prospective, randomized clinical trial (RCT) pilot study was designed to (1) assess the feasibility and tolerability of an easily administered, auricular point acupressure (APA) intervention and (2) provide an initial assessment of effect size as compared to a sham treatment. Thirty-seven subjects were randomized to receive either the real or sham APA treatment. All participants were treated once a week for 4 weeks. Self-report measures were obtained at baseline, weekly during treatment, at end-of-intervention (EOI), and at a 1-month follow-up. A dropout rate of 26% in the real APA group and 50% in the sham group was observed. The reduction in worst pain from baseline to EOI was 41% for the real and 5% for the sham group with a Cohen’s effect size of 1.22 . Disability scores on the Roland Morris Disability Questionnaire (RMDQ) decreased in the real group by 29% and were unchanged in the sham group (+3%) . Given the high dropout rate, results must be interpreted with caution; nevertheless, our results suggest that APA may provide an inexpensive and effective complementary approach for the management of back pain in older adults, and further study is warranted.