The Impact of Gender on the Effectiveness of an Auricular Acupressure Intervention Administered to Community-Dwelling Poor Sleepers: A Cluster Randomized Controlled Trial.
J Nurs Res. 2021 Mar 19. Epub 2021 Mar 19. PMID: 33756521
BACKGROUND: Women report a higher incidence of sleep problems than men. Few studies addressing the effect of gender on the efficacy of administering auricular acupressure (AA) at shenmen points (heart meridian 7 [HT7]) on sleep quality have been published.
PURPOSE: The primary aim of this study was to investigate the effects of a 4-week AA intervention applied at the HT7 points on sleep quality, perceived physical health, and perceived mental health in community-dwelling individuals with poor self-reported sleep quality. Additional analyses were used to evaluate the gender-specific effects of this intervention.
METHODS: A cluster randomized controlled trial with repeated-measures design was used. One hundred seventy-nine eligible participants were randomly assigned to either the AA group (n = 88; 47 women, 41 men) or the sleep hygiene instruction (SHI) group (n = 91; 52 women, 39 men). The AA group self-administered acupressure at HT7 on both ears for a 4-week period, whereas the SHI group received an SHI information sheet. Outcome measures included the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the Short-Form Health Survey-12 Version 2, with data collected at baseline and at 2, 4, and 8 weeks posttest.
RESULTS: Linear mixed-model analysis revealed that the participants in the AA group experienced significantly greater reductions in mean PSQI global score and the three indices of sleep latency, subjective sleep quality, and daytime dysfunction than the SHI group at 2 and 4 weeks posttest. The improvements in subjective sleep quality and daytime dysfunction remained at 4 weeks posttest in the AA group, but not in the SHI group. The PSQI global score decreased significantly more in men than women in the AA group between baseline and 4 weeks posttest.
CONCLUSIONS/IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: Four weeks of self-administered acupressure at HT7 on both ears is an effective intervention for community-dwelling poor sleepers who are over 45 years old. Moreover, the improvements in subjective sleep quality and daytime dysfunction persist for up to 4 weeks after the end of the intervention. This self-administered acupressure intervention is more effective in men than in women in terms of improving sleep quality. Gender bias is known to influence research results and may lead to inappropriate generalizations. Thus, future studies that are performed to build basic scientific evidence should include considerations of the effects of gender in the study design.