Application of Auricular Point Acupressure for Pain in Patients with Alzheimer’s Disease and their Caregivers

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Chronic Pain and Management






Objective: To explore the feasibility of Auricular Point Acupressure (APA) to self-manage pain among patients with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders (ADRD) and their caregivers (patient-caregiver dyads). Methods: A two-phase study design was used. Phase 1 was designed to explore the experiences of the dyads in using APA to manage chronic pain. In Phase 2, we examined the revised intervention protocol to manage pain. All of the study activities were conducted at the participants’ homes. Results: In Phase 1, five dyads (patients and caregivers) who received the APA treatment reported marked and immediate outcomes but there were challenges in applying APA to manage pain for ADRD patients, including how to remind the patients to stimulate the ear points, and the access issues (i.e., when the participants lived far away, home visits were not feasible). In phase 2, the intervention protocol was revised by including the reminder text message, caregiver training to self-administer APA training; the caregiver also received APA treatment for their pain/symptoms to motivate their willingness to adhere to APA practice. Among 7 dyads enrolled, the patients’ worst pain had decreased 31% after completing the 4-week APA treatment compared to T1. Caregivers who received the training though APA stated that the treatment was easy to learn and easy to administer. Discussion: Preliminary data demonstrate positive outcomes from the use of APA to manage pain in ADRD patients as well as feasibility in delivering caregiver training for both self- and patient-administration of APA. Further studies are warranted to examine the efficacy of APA on ADRD patients and their caregiver to manage their pain in a larger clinical trial.


Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders; Caregiver; Chronic pain; Auricular point acupressure


Geriatric Nursing | Occupational and Environmental Health Nursing



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