A Randomized Controlled Trial Examining the Effect of Acupressure on Agitation and Salivary Cortisol in Nursing Home Residents with Dementia

Yiu Cho Kwan, Mason Chin Pang Leung, Claudia Kam Yuk Lai

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Karger AG, Basel. Background: Acupressure has been used to manage agitation in people with dementia because it is safe and inexpensive. However, its effect on agitation and at the biochemical level is uncertain. Methods: This randomized controlled trial examined the effect of acupressure on agitation, as measured by the Cohen-Mansfield Agitation Inventory (CMAI); and on salivary cortisol, as measured at baseline (T0) and in the 3rd (T1), 5th (T2), and 8th (T3) weeks. There were 119 agitated residents with dementia randomized into 3 groups: acupressure (n = 39), sham (n = 41), and usual-care group (n = 39). Results: A downward trend in agitation over time was noted in the acupressure group, which almost reached a level of significance in interaction effects between groups and time points (p = 0.052). Post hoc pairwise tests in the acupressure group showed that acupressure significantly reduced agitation at T2 (mean difference -6.84, 95% CI -10.60, -3.08) compared to baseline. Significant interaction effects between groups and time points were observed on the level of salivary cortisol (p = 0.022). Conclusion: Acupressure is a multicomponent intervention that can reduce agitation. Acupoint activation may not be a significant component in reducing agitation, although this result may have been limited by the inadequate sample size. Acupressure is effective in reducing salivary cortisol in people with dementia.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)92-104
Number of pages13
JournalDementia and Geriatric Cognitive Disorders
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017


  • Acupressure
  • Agitation
  • Dementia
  • Nursing home
  • Salivary cortisol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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