Acupressure and dementia: A review of current evidence

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Context: Dementia is the cognitive decline of patients, who often exhibit behavioral and psychological symptoms, severely affecting their quality of life (QoL) and placing a heavy burden on caregivers. Studies have found that acupressure can have benefits for individuals with dementia.

Objective: The review intended to critically analyze the currently available evidence on the use of acupressure as a nonpharmacological therapy for people with dementia, based on results from available clinical trials.

Design: The research team performed an evidence-based review between March and June 2020, following a systematic search strategy, to find human clinical trials using acupressure as an intervention for dementia patients. For the search, the research team used major research databases-Pubmed, EBSCOhost, PsycInfo, ProQuest, Scopus, Web of Science, Cochrane Library, and CINAHL Plus.

Setting: The study was conducted through remote collaboration coordinated through Charles Sturt University Bathurst campus in Australia.

Participants: The 12 clinical trials included 973 participants, with the pooled mean age being 81.10 ± 6.74 and 48.2% being males and 51.8% females.

Intervention: The reviewed studies evaluated acupressure as an intervention for dementia patients.

Outcome measures: The team synthesized the review results to examine the effects of acupressure on various outcome measures of interest for dementia.

Results: Twelve clinical trials (N = 973), including eight randomized controlled studies, were included in the review. Participants were predominantly institutionalized residents, with moderate-to-severe dementia. Baihui (GV20), Shenmen (HT7), Fengchi (GB20), Neiguan (PC6), Sanyinjiao (SP6), and Yingtang (EX-HN3) were the most-used acupoints for intervention. The acupressure techniques varied greatly, with no standardized approach being used. The review found inconsistent evidence on the effectiveness of acupressure in reducing agitation and behavioral disturbances, but the treatment appears to improve the ease of care and reduce physical stress. Affixing acupressure devices on selected acupoints can potentially decrease psychiatric pain, anxiety, and depression. Long-term treatment (6 months) may improve cognitive function, the ability to perform the activities of daily living, and QoL of patients with mild-to-moderate dementia. The effect of acupressure on sleep disturbances remains unclear.

Conclusions: More high-quality research on acupressure is needed to fill the gaps in knowledge and inform better care for dementia patients in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)18-29
Number of pages12
JournalAlternative Therapies in Health and Medicine
Issue number7
Early online dateApr 2022
Publication statusPublished - 01 Oct 2023


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