Effects of Acupressure on Anxiety: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Su Ru Chen, Wen Hsuan Hou, Jung Nien Lai, Joey S.W. Kwong, Pi Chu Lin

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives: The research aim was to perform a systematic review and meta-analysis evaluating the ability of acupressure to reduce anxiety. Design: Randomized controlled trials were obtained through a search of electronic medical databases (four in English and one in Chinese) from inception to October 5, 2020. Two authors searched the databases, evaluated studies' methodological quality, and performed data extraction independently. The final studies for analysis were identified after discussion with the third author. Results: We obtained 27 studies for our systematic review and meta-analysis. Eight studies had a low overall risk of bias, and 13 had some bias concerns with methodological quality. According to the results, acupressure significantly reduced patient anxiety (standardized mean difference = 1.152; 95% confidence interval: 0.847-1.459, p < 0.001), and the study heterogeneity was high (Q = 299.74, p < 0.001, I2 = 91.333%). Two studies reported acupressure-associated adverse events. We also performed a sensitivity analysis by omitting one outlier study, which had the largest effect size; however, high heterogeneity remained (I2 = 87.816%). A subgroup analysis revealed significant differences between participant types (Q = 46.573, p < 0.001), levels of methodological quality (Q = 6.228, p = 0.044), and massage equipment (Q = 4.642, p = 0.031). Conclusions: Our meta-analysis suggests that acupressure can alleviate anxiety. Acupressure was more effective for inpatients and preoperative patients when finger massage was applied. In individuals with anxiety and a stable hemodynamic status, acupressure could be a promising treatment option. However, the substantial heterogeneity across studies means that any inference from the results should be performed cautiously.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-35
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Integrative and Complementary Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2022


  • acupressure
  • anxiety
  • meta-analysis
  • randomized controlled trial
  • systematic review

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine


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