Poster Presentation Clinical Oncology Society of Australia Annual Scientific Meeting 2017

Acupuncture and reflexology service for patients in the day therapy unit for chemotherapy in a large comprehensive cancer centre. A pilot study (#390)

Suzanne J Grant 1 2 , Gretel Speigel 2 , Judith Lacey 2
  1. Western Sydney University, Camperdown, NSW, Australia
  2. Chris O'Brien Lifehouse, Camperdown, NSW, Australia


Patients receiving intravenous chemotherapy treatments experience a high incidence of anxiety (1) and nausea. Acupuncture and reflexology have shown some effect in improving these symptoms (2, 3).  In 2017, a 90-minute acupuncture and reflexology clinic was trialled one day per week in the chemotherapy suite at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse Comprehensive Cancer Centre, Sydney, Australia.  The clinic focuses on addressing acute chemotherapy-related side effects such as nausea, vomiting, pain and anxiety. The aim was to investigate the feasibility of conducting an ongoing clinic; and to inform randomised controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate the effectiveness of providing acupuncture and reflexology for patients while receiving chemotherapy.  Change in symptoms experienced by patients before and after receiving acupuncture or reflexology provide an indication of patient benefit.


Patients attending the day therapy unit for chemotherapy were offered a free acupuncture or reflexology treatment.  The choice of intervention was guided by patient choice or nursing staff recommendation.  Patients completed an informed consent, an Edmonton Symptom Assessment Scale (ESAS Q17) before and after treatment, and were invited to provide written feedback. Reflexology was a 20-minute foot treatment. Acupuncture points selected were individualised according to the presentation of the patient but restricted to arms, legs, scalp and ears. 

Results and Discussion: 

To date, 107 treatments have been provided since the study commenced in May, 2017; 50 acupuncture and 57 reflexology treatments. The study is still underway.   ESAS results and feedback will be presented.


Reflexology and acupuncture are well received in the day therapy unit by patients and staff.  The use of validated tools to measure symptoms before and after these interventions will be used to inform an RCT. The data generated from the study will provide other hospitals with valuable insight into establishing and satellite clinics in a hospital setting.

  1. Garcia MK, McQuade J, Haddad R, Patel S, Lee R, Yang P, et al. Systematic review of acupuncture in cancer care: a synthesis of the evidence. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2013;31(7):952-60.
  2. Wyatt G, Sikorskii A, Rahbar MH, Victorson D, You M. Health-Related Quality-of-Life Outcomes: A Reflexology Trial With Patients With Advanced-Stage Breast Cancer. Oncology nursing forum. 2012;39(6):568-77