Aims: To compare the differences between acupoint pressure, abdominal massage and laxatives in treatment of constipation for residents in two nursing homes.
Background: There is lack of evidence on the utility of complementary therapies in the management of constipation among older adults.
Methods: A total of 90 participants from two nursing homes in Taiwan were assigned to three groups: the control group (with laxatives only), group I (with laxatives and abdominal massage) and group II (with laxatives, acupoint pressure therapy [APT] and abdominal massage). The intervention was performed over 10 days. A double-blind technique was applied in both participants and the outcome assessors. Constipation as main outcome was evaluated and recorded for 10 days. Observation of the frequency of defecation and the consistency, particularly firmness of faeces over each 24 hours’ period was recorded. The Transparent Reporting of Evaluations with Nonrandomized Designs (TREND) checklist was utilised in reporting methods and findings.
Results: Three variations were revealed as interface factors and showed significant differences in each group. The results showed a statistically significant decrease in constipation in the experimental groups I and II. The scores of defecation frequency, difficulty degree and time of defecation, stool quality and awareness of defecation were obviously improved after treatment.
Conclusions: We concluded APT could be used in conjunction with laxatives and must be considered as a long-term intervention. The combination of APT, abdominal massage and laxatives is superior to both abdominal massage with laxatives and laxatives alone.
Relevance to clinical practice: Acupoint pressure as an effective complementary therapy of constipation among older adults living in nursing home provides a non-pharmacological, independent nursing intervention that nurses could use. This is relevant to nursing home settings where nurses make autonomous decision on important clinical assessments and interventions.