Acupressure for Cancer Related Fatigue: Empowering Nurses in Symptom Management

Saturday, 7 November 2015

Victoria L. Reiser, BSN, RN
School of Nursing, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV, USA

The purpose of this presentation is to describe the results and nursing implications of the pilot study titled "Use of the Seva Stress Release (SSR) Protocol with hospitalized patients receiving cancer treatment" conducted on the BMTU and medical oncology unit at Ruby Memorial Hospital of WVU Healthcare. The target audience of this presentation is inpatient and outpatient oncology registered nurses, advanced practice nurses, nurse managers, and other oncology professionals interested seeking to incorporate integrative therapies with traditional methods of cancer-related symptoms. Researchers interested in these therapies and symptom management are also included in this audience. This is an ongoing independent study as part of my honors program at West Virginia University. I first developed an interest in oncology symptom management during a clinical rotation in medical oncology in Spring 2012. The following spring, I completed a literature review titled "Acupressure for symptom management: A call for Seva Stress Release Protocol research", in addition to becoming certified in the Seva Stress Release. The following fall, I presented this work at our chapter's biennial research conference in a poster session. Beginning in fall 2014 to the present, I have been conducting the pilot study investigating the impact of the Seva Stress Release on cancer-related fatigue, stress, pain, vital signs, and medication use. The questions being answered by this study include feasibility of implementing this protocol into cancer treatment, if it lowers stress, anxiety, pain, or fatigue, and if it impacts vital signs. Acupressure is a therapy based on the Traditional Chinese Medicine theories involving Qi, or energy. It, like acupuncture, restores the flow of energy through pathways within the body called meridians. These meridians have been linked to the nervous system in the human body and correspond to organs and body systems. Several studies and systematic reviews have already pointed to acupressure as an effective therapy for managing cancer-related fatigue, but suggested that further research is needed. The Seva Stress Release (SSR) Protocol, specifically, was developed by Soul Lightening International after the tragedy on September 11, 2001 to relieve the stress of rescue workers at ground zero. Since this time, it has been taught to healthcare providers and laypersons in a variety of settings worldwide. The protocol includes eight bilateral acupoints that provides a standardized method for stress relief, relaxation, and pain management. The points correspond to specific symptoms involved in stress, fatigue, and pain and are linked to correlating acupoints of Traditional Chinese Medicine. The populations already benefiting from its sue are rescue workers, Hospice patients, soldiers and veterans, chemotherapy and radiation patients, health care providers, children with ADHD, and those suffering HIV/AIDS. It has also been used to aid undergraduate students self-manage stress associated with school. Because cancer qualifies as a traumatic event with consequences such as PTSD, patients who have a cancer diagnosis may benefit tremendously from the SSR, as its original intent was to manage stress and promote relaxation. These patients often experience other psychological symptoms including mental dysfunction, fatigue, poor sleep, lack of appetite and depression, all associated with cancer-related fatigue. As this pilot study progresses and is completed in late February to early March of 2015, patient feedback has been extremely positive. They report feeling less fatigued, improved management of pain, and enhanced ability to manage stressors during hospitalization. Furthermore, some patients are using decreased amounts of narcotic pain medication, which in turn, can decrease associated detrimental side effects such as hypotension, constipation, and respiratory depression. The study is ongoing, and data analysis will be conducted throughout March and April 2015. Data analysis will include paired T-tests, descriptive statistics, and patient notes/comments. *A finalized abstract will be prepared upon the conclusion of this research study.