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Title: Self-administered auricular acupressure integrated with a smartphone app for weight reduction : randomized feasibility trial
Authors: Suen, L 
Wang, W
Cheng, KKY 
Chua, MCH
Yeung, JWF 
Koh, WK
Yeung, SKW 
Ho, JYS 
Keywords: Acupressure
Randomized controlled trial
Issue Date: 29-May-2019
Publisher: JMIR Publications
Source: JMIR Mhealth Uhealth, 29 May 2019, v. 7, no. 5, e14386, p. 1-20 How to cite?
Journal: JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 
Abstract: Background: Obesity is a common global health problem and increases the risk of many chronic illnesses. Given the adverse effects of antiobesity agents and bariatric surgeries, the exploration of noninvasive and nonpharmacological complementary methods for weight reduction is warranted.
Objective: The study aimed to determine whether self-administered auricular acupressure (AA) integrated with a smartphone app was more effective than using AA alone or the controls for weight reduction.
Methods: This study is a 3-arm randomized waitlist-controlled feasibility trial. A total of 59 eligible participants were randomly divided into either group 1 (AA group, n=19), group 2 (AA plus smartphone app, n=19), or group 3 (waitlist control, n=21). A total of 6 reflective zones or acupoints for weight reduction were chosen. The smartphone app could send out daily messages to the subjects to remind them to perform self-pressing on the 6 ear acupoints. A “date picker” of the 8-week treatment course was used to enable the users to input the compliance of pressing and the number of bowel movement daily instead of using the booklet for recordings. The app also served as a reminder for the subjects regarding the dates for returning to the center for acupoint changing and assessments. Treatment was delivered 2 times a week, for 8 weeks. Generalized estimating equations were used to examine the interactions among the groups before and after intervention.
Results: Subjects in group 2 expressed that the smartphone app was useful (7.41 out of 10). The most popular features were the daily reminders for performing self-pressing (88%), the ear diagram indicating the locations and functions of the 6 ear points (71%), and ear pressing method demonstrated in the video scripts (47%). Nearly 90% of the participants completed the 8-week intervention, with a high satisfaction toward the overall arrangement (8.37 out of 10). The subjects in group 1 and 2 achieved better therapeutic effects in terms of body weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and hip circumference and perceived more fullness before meals than the waitlist controls. Although no significant differences in the pairwise comparisons between the 2 groups were detected (P>.05), the decrease in body weight, BMI, body fat, visceral fat rating and leptin level, and increase in adiponectin level were notable in group 2 before and after the intervention.
Conclusions: The high compliance rate and high satisfaction toward the trial arrangement indicate that AA can be used to achieve weight reduction and applied in future large-scale studies. AA integrated with the smartphone app has a more notable effect than using AA alone for weight reduction. Larger sample size should be considered in future trials to determine the causal relationship between treatment and effect.
EISSN: 2291-5222
DOI: 10.2196/14386
Rights: ©Lorna Suen, Wenru Wang, Kenneth King Yip Cheng, Matthew Chin Heng Chua, Jerry Wing Fai Yeung, Wai Kin Koh, Simon Kai Wang Yeung, Janice Yuen Shan Ho. Originally published in JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth (, 18.05.2019. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in JMIR mhealth and uhealth, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.
The following publication Suen L, Wang W, Cheng KKY, Chua MCH, Yeung JWF, Koh WK, Yeung SKW, Ho JYS. Self-Administered Auricular Acupressure Integrated With a Smartphone App for Weight Reduction: Randomized Feasibility Trial. JMIR Mhealth Uhealth 2019;7(5):e14386, 20 pages is available at
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