Objectives: To investigate the appetite of COVID-19 patients treated in a makeshift hospital and to evaluate the effectiveness of abdominal massage and ST-36 (Zusanli) acupressure in improving their appetite.
Design: Randomized controlled trial.
Methods: This study was performed between February 15 and March 2, 2020, in a sports centre makeshift hospital in Wuhan, China. The appetite of 110 COVID-19 patients was assessed using a mobile app-based Simplified Nutritional Appetite Questionnaire (SNAQ). The experimental and control groups, 55 patients each, were randomized using a prepared randomization checklist. Through video guidance and on-the-spot instruction, patients in the experimental group mastered the methods of abdominal massage and ST-36 (Zusanli) acupressure and implemented the intervention for 7 days by themselves. The appetite of the patients was assessed again after intervention.
Results: In a total of 110 participants, 43 (39.1%) patients suffered from a poor appetite. A positive correlation between poor appetite and older age as well as fever was observed (p<0.05). In the experimental group, the SNAQ scores were significantly increased (14.07±2.46 vs 15.55±1.77, p=0.0004), and the proportion of patients with a poor appetite was markedly reduced after the intervention (41.8% vs 10.9%, p=0.0002). Compared with the control group, the rate of poor appetite in the experimental group was significantly decreased postintervention (27.3% vs 10.9%, p=0.029).
Conclusion: In COVID-19 patients, a poor appetite may be correlated with older age and fever. Abdominal massage and ST-36 (Zusanli) acupressure are applicable and effective in improving the appetite of COVID-19 patients during isolation treatment.
Trial registration: Chinese clinical trial registry (ChiCTR2000033261), the trial was registered retrospectively.