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Acad Emerg Med. 2006 Jan;13(1):19-23. Epub 2005 Dec 19.

Out-of-hospital auricular acupressure in elder patients with hip fracture: a randomized double-blinded trial.

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Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care, University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.



Auricular acupressure is known to decrease the level of anxiety in patients during ambulance transport. The purpose of this randomized, double-blind, sham control study was to determine whether auricular acupressure can decrease not only the level of anxiety but also the level of pain in a group of elder patients with acute hip fracture.


With the assistance of the Vienna Red Cross, 38 patients with acute hip fracture were enrolled into this study. Patients were randomized into two study groups: the true intervention group and the sham control group. Subjects in the true intervention group (n = 18) received bilateral auricular acupressure at three auricular acupressure points for hip pain. Patients in the sham group (n = 20) received bilateral auricular acupressure at sham points. Baseline demographic information, anxiety level, pain level, blood pressure, and heart rate were obtained before the administration of the appropriate acupressure intervention. The level of anxiety, level of pain, hemodynamic profiles, and level of satisfaction were reassessed once the patients arrived at the hospital.


Patients in the true intervention groups had less pain (F = 28, p = 0.0001) and anxiety (F = 4.3, p = 0.018) and lower heart rate (F = 18, p = 0.0001) on arrival at the hospital than did patients in the sham control group. As a result, the patients in the true intervention group reported higher satisfaction in the care they received during the ride to the hospital.


The authors encourage physicians, health care providers, and emergency rescuers to learn this easy, noninvasive, and inexpensive technique for its effects in decreasing anxiety and pain during emergency transportation.

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