Background: Complementary and alternative therapies may be adopted as nursing interventions to alleviate dysmenorrhea and improve productivity, creativity, work performance, and quality of life. Objectives: This study aimed to evaluate the efficacy of San Yin Jiao (SP6) acupressure as a non-pharmacologic nursing intervention for dysmenorrhea and identify its effects on temperature changes in two related acupoints as an explanatory mechanism of χ circulation. Design: A non-equivalent control group pre and post-test design was employed to verify the effects of SP6 acupressure on skin temperature and dysmenorrhea. Setting and participants: Young college women with primary dysmenorrhea were recruited from classrooms at two universities in Korea and 58 eligible participants were allotted to either a SP6 acupressure group or placebo group that received light touch on the SP6 acupoint. Methods: The experimental group received acupressure treatment within the first 8 h of menstruation, and severity of dysmenorrhea and skin temperature changes in the Zhongwan (CV2) and Qugu (CV12) acupoints were assessed prior to and 30 min, 1, 2, and 3 h following treatment. Results: There was a significant difference in severity of dysmenorrhea between the two groups immediately after (F = 18.50, p = 0.000) and for up to 2 h (F = 8.04, p = 0.032) post treatment. Skin temperature was significantly elevated at 30 min after acupressure at the suprapubic CV2 acupoint in the experimental group compared to the control group. Temperature elevation was also noted at the epigastric CV12 acupoint post treatment but group differences were not significant, indicating that SP6 acupressure relieves dysmenorrhea primarily by temperature elevation in the CV2 pathway. Conclusions: Acupressure to the SP6 meridian can be an effective non-invasive nursing intervention for alleviation of primary dysmenorrhea, with effects lasting 2 h post treatment.
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