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Effect of self-administered auricular acupressure on smoking cessation --a pilot study

Lawrence Leung123, Troy Neufeld12 and Scott Marin12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Family Medicine, Queen's University, 220 Bagot Street, Kingston, ON K7L 5E9, Canada

2 Centre of Studies in Primary Care, Queen's University, Kingston, ON K7L 5E9, Canada

3 Centre of Neurosciences Studies, Queen's University, Kingston, ON K7L 3N6, Canada

BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2012, 12:11  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-12-11

Published: 28 February 2012



Tobacco smoking is still a worldwide health risk. Current pharmacotherapies have at best, a success rate of no more than 50%. Auricular (ear) acupressure has been purported to be beneficial in achieving smoking cessation in some studies, while in others has been deemed insignificant. We hereby describe the protocol for a three-arm randomised controlled trial to examine the possible benefits of self-administered acupressure for smoking cessation.


Sixty consenting participants with confirmed habit of tobacco smoking will be recruited and randomized into three arms to receive either auricular acupressure at five true acupoints (NADA protocol), auricular acupressure at five sham points, or no auricular acupressure at all. Participants having auricular acupressure will exert firm pressure to each acupoint bilaterally via the bead in the attached plasters whenever they feel the urge to smoke. The treatment phase will last for six weeks during which all participants will be assessed weekly to review their smoking log, state of abstinence, end-exhalation carbon monoxide levels and possible adverse effects including withdrawal reactions and stress levels. At any time, a successful quit date will be defined with continuous abstinence for the following consecutive 7 days. From then on, participants will be evaluated individually for continuous abstinence rate (CAR), end-exhalation carbon monoxide levels and adverse effects of stress and withdrawal at specified intervals up to 26 weeks. Expectancy of treatment will be assessed with a four-item Borkovec and Nau self-assessment credibility scale during and after intervention.


We incorporate validated outcome measures of smoking cessation into our randomised controlled trial design with the objectives to evaluate the feasibility and possible benefits of self-administered auricular acupressure as a non-invasive alternative to pharmacotherapy for smoking cessation.

Trial Registration NCT01389622 (registered Jul 7 2011)