Nausea and vomiting are distressing symptoms reported by pediatric oncology patients during cancer treatment. More than 40% of them experience these symptoms even after receiving antiemetics.
Given the limitations of pharmacological interventions, this systematic review synthesized the evidence for the effectiveness of complementary and alternative medicine in controlling nausea and vomiting among pediatric oncology patients.
Ten databases were searched to identify relevant randomized controlled trials. The risk of bias of selected studies was graded using the Cochrane risk-of-bias tool for randomized trials. The primary outcomes were nausea and vomiting. The secondary outcomes were intervention adherence and number of adverse events.
Nineteen papers met the inclusion criteria and were included in the review. Sixteen studies showed high risk of bias. The tested interventions were acupuncture, acupressure, aromatherapy, hypnosis, massage, active cognitive distraction/relaxation techniques, creative arts therapy, psychoeducation, and combined massage and acupressure. Acupuncture, hypnosis, and massage interventions improved nausea and vomiting. Fifteen trials reported intervention adherence; only 7 monitored adverse events. The most common reason for dropout was refusal from patients and/or their guardians. A total of 34 adverse events were noted.
There is insufficient evidence that complementary and alternative medicine is effective, feasible, or safe in controlling nausea and vomiting among pediatric oncology patients due to high risk of bias.
Acupuncture, hypnosis, and massage appear to have therapeutic benefits. However, more robust studies are needed to address the identified methodological issues and determine the real value of these 3 interventions.

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