Sleep disturbance is a frequent and significant problem challenge for family caregivers of patients with cancer. A previously tested 6-week auricular acupressure intervention was found to reduce symptom burden in women with cancer. It is possible that such an intervention has a concomitant benefit for family caregivers.
The aim of this study was to explore if the effects of an auricular acupressure intervention on major symptoms experienced by women with ovarian cancer improves the sleep quality of family caregivers.
A quasi-randomized controlled trial with a repeated-measures design was used. Family caregivers (n = 68) of cancer patients were recruited and completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index on 4 occasions. Demographic information included age, sex, duration of caring role, and relationship to the patient.
Family members with a longer duration of caregiving reported more sleep disturbance at baseline. As the symptom burden of treated women decreased, their family caregivers reported improved Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index scores at 4 weeks (time 2; Cohen d = 1.075) and 6 weeks (time 3; Cohen d = 1.022).
Reducing the symptom burden of patients with cancer can improve the sleep quality of family caregivers.
Auricular acupressure is a noninvasive and easy-to-apply intervention that can be applied by caregivers to assist their family member. Nursing staff can implement and test the acupressure intervention into their clinical practice and better support family-based strategies and interventions. Further studies with larger samples are needed to confirm our findings.