Ear-acupressure for allergic rhinitis

Zhang, S 2011, Ear-acupressure for allergic rhinitis, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Health Sciences, RMIT University.

Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Ear-acupressure for allergic rhinitis
Author(s) Zhang, S
Year 2011
Abstract Allergic rhinitis (AR) is a common respiratory allergic condition characterised by sneezing, itching, rhinorrhoea and/or nasal congestion, affecting 16% of Australian. It impacts on patients’ quality of life (QoL) significantly in terms of physical, psychological and social aspects as well as causing economic burden to patients and the AR associated health care system.

Current Western medical management of AR includes pharmacotherapy, allergen-specific immunotherapy and others. These therapies do not completely relieve AR symptoms, with some accompanied side effects. Ear-acupressure is considered as a subtype of acupuncture. It is a kind of semi-self-administered, non-invasive technique. This study aimed to investigate the efficacy and safety of ear-acupressure for AR by conducting two systematic reviews (SRs), two pilot randomised controlled trials (RCTs) and one main RCT.

Two SRs were conducted prior to designing the RCT protocol. The first one systematically reviewed previous RCTs which used ear-acupuncture/ear-acupressure for AR, and concluded that ear-acupressure might be effective and safe for AR. However, the previous RCTs in this area had methodological weaknesses and a rigorously designed RCT was required. The second SR evaluated all sham control methods used in previous ear-acupuncture/ear-acupressure RCTs. Based on the findings of this SR, “non-specific ear points” sham control method was selected in designing the following RCTs.

Each of three RCTs lasted for 22 weeks including a two-week run-in period, an eight-week treatment period and a 12-week follow-up period (except the second pilot study for seasonal AR).

Pilot study I, including 18 participants was to assess the feasibility of the trial protocol. It demonstrated that ear-acupressure could be effectively employed as an intervention in a trial setting. Several areas for improvement were identified and incorporated into the amended trial protocol.

Pilot study II, including 63 participants, was to investigate the efficacy of ear-acupressure for AR and to provide data for the sample size estimation of the main RCT. At the end of the treatment period, significant differences between two groups were found in sneezing, total nasal symptoms and global nasal and non-nasal symptoms. Based on the findings of this study, it was estimated the main RCT required 116 participants for each group and 232 in total.

The main RCT was conducted at two trial centres: Melbourne, Australia and Guangzhou, China. Only the Australian data (n=117) were reported in this thesis. Significant differences between the two groups were found in the following items: total nasal symptom, sneezing, blocked nose, itchy nose, watery eyes, global nasal and non-nasal symptoms, global QoL, activity and sleep domain at the end of treatment period; and total nasal symptoms, blocked nose symptom and sleep domain at the end of follow-up period. Some mild and moderate short-term discomforts were reported by participants during the treatment period, these discomforts were effectively managed by refinement of the pressing techniques by participants.

In conclusion, ear-acupressure is effective and safe for symptomatic control and QoL improvement in AR.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Health Sciences
Keyword(s) Allergic rhinitis
Chinese medicine
randomised controlled trial
systematic review
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