March 2, 2018

New Research Funding: Dr. Suzanna Zick awarded nearly $1M grant from the U.S. Department of Defense to investigate the use of self-acupressure in cervical cancer survivorship care

MeTime acupressure app on a phone screen, showing pressure points on the body
MeTime, a self-acupressure app developed by Research Associate Professor Suzanna Zick, N.D., M.P.H., may provide low-cost fatigue relief for ovarian cancer survivors


Suzanna Zick, ND, MPH
Suzanna Zick, N.D., M.P.H., Lead Investigator

Fatigue, sleep disturbances and poor quality of life are significant, interrelated, and prevalent issues for ovarian cancer survivors, yet few treatments options exist. Moreover, very few studies have investigated interventions that focused on ovarian cancer survivors with their unique needs and challenges. A new study, led by Suzanna Zick, N.D., M.P.H., Research Associate Professor, will test an acupressure self-care intervention to help alleviate fatigue, improve sleep and quality of life in ovarian cancer survivors.

The proposed investigation was recently awarded research funding, totaling $928,592, from the United States’ Department of Defense, as part of their Ovarian Cancer Research Program. The project period will begin June 1, 2018 and end on May 31, 2019.

Prior to this project, Zick and her team of clinician-researchers and engineers designed and developed an acupressure mobile app, MeTime, and associated Bluetooth-enabled handheld acupressure device, the AcuWand. Together, the app and accessory were tested in a pilot study of ovarian cancer survivors with persistent fatigue.

Prototype of AcuWand bluetooth acupressure wand
Prototype of AcuWand, Bluetooth-enabled acupressure device 

If successful, this self-administered acupressure intervention will be readily available to patients at minimal costs. The proposal uses an innovative “real-world” strategy to deliver the acupressure intervention using a commercially available mobile app and low-cost device. Ovarian cancer survivors could use the app and device in their home or workplace.  Alternatively, a woman’s health care provider, whether oncology or primary care could also recommend and or go over the app and device with their patients. As such, this intervention is positioned to empower ovarian cancer survivors to take steps to help improve their quality of life.

See previously published work from Dr. Zick on the use of acupressure in fatigue reduction among cancer survivors:

Zick SM, Alrawi S, Merel G, et al. Relaxation Acupressure Reduces Persistent Cancer-Related Fatigue. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2011;2011:1-10. doi:10.1155/2011/142913.
Zick SM, Sen A, Wyatt GK, Murphy SL, Arnedt JT, Harris RE. Investigation of 2 Types of Self-administered Acupressure for Persistent Cancer-Related Fatigue in Breast Cancer Survivors. JAMA Oncology. 2016;2(11):1470. doi:10.1001/jamaoncol.2016.1867.    
Browse the latest research on Integrative and Complementary Medicine from the Department of Family Medicine. 

Disclosure: The University of Michigan and inventors, Dr. Suzanna Zick and Dr. Richard Harris, are entitled to royalties from the sale of the MeTime mobile app which is available on Google Play or the Apple Store. The University of Michigan has an ownership interest in  Arbor Medical Innovations (AMI) which manufactures the AcuWand device used in this study and may be available for sale in the future.