Lessons from an acupuncture teaching clinic: patient characteristics and pain management effectiveness

Kai-Yin Hsu, Julie E Dunn, Ylisabyth S Bradshaw, Lisa Conboy
Explore: the Journal of Science and Healing 2014, 10 (5): 284-93

OBJECTIVES: To understand the following about patients using an acupuncture teaching clinic: (1) sociodemographic characteristics and main complaints and (2) self-reported level of patient-centered outcomes regarding pain management.

METHODS/DESIGN: Retrospective chart review.

SUBJECTS: A total of 458 new patients at NESA clinic during October 1, 2009 to July 31, 2010 were enrolled in the study.

INTERVENTIONS: A variety of styles of Oriental medicine, primarily Chinese and Japanese style acupuncture and also heat treatments (MOXA or heat lamps) and Tui Na (Asia bodywork).

RESULTS: Results from Objective 1 were descriptive (n = 421). Objective 2 focused on the 59 patients from the larger sample who completed both an initial and a follow-up Measure Your Medical Outcome Profile (MYMOP) form and who used acupuncture for pain management of (1) diseases of the musculoskeletal system and/or connective tissue or (2) migraine/headache. Both the symptom severity and activity of daily living/well-being scales of the MYMOP showed over 15.8% improvement from baseline to at least six weeks of treatment: 28.6% for Symptom 1, 19.4% for Symptom 2, 35.7% for activities of daily living, and 25.0% for well-being. The relative majority for each sociodemographic trait investigated were as follows: female, about 40 years old, white, not Hispanic or Latino, married, highly educated, and employed. Most patients were confident in acupuncture treatment. Out of the 421 acupuncture patients, 68.2% wanted acupuncture in order to manage pain. Overall, 20.6% of the patients (59, N = 287) who used acupuncture for pain management for diseases of the musculoskeletal system and/or connective tissue or migraine or headache completed the sixth-week follow-up MYMOP form. Of these patients, 57.6% (34, N = 59) returned during week 6 of the semester for acupuncture treatment and reported clinical improvement in at least one MYMOP severity score, and no score got worse.

CONCLUSIONS: The information about sociodemographic characteristic and patient-centered outcomes of pain management can be used for service provision, future study planning, and marketing. Future studies should address the low follow-up rate, the quality of self-reported clinic data, and the reasons that patients chose acupuncture treatments and teaching clinics.

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