To investigate patients' perspectives of the process and outcome of Western-style acupuncture for chronic health problems. To use these results to inform the provision of acupuncture in health services in the UK.
A purposive sample of 18 patients who were having Western-style acupuncture, for the first time, for a health problem of at least three months duration, were interviewed twice over a four-month period using semi-structured interviews. Using a constant comparative method, the data were analysed across cases and within cases.
The interviewees complained of chronic pain and moderate or severe disability which was resistant to conventional treatment. Their experience of acupuncture was diverse and varied according to the 'dosage' of acupuncture received, the inclusion of self-care strategies, and their relationship with the practitioner. These three factors were interlinked and constituted individual styles of practice for each practitioner. The majority of patients benefited in terms of complete or partial relief of pain and disability, and reduction in conventional medication. However, some patients were disappointed by the treatment, distressed about 'wasting people's time', and about the lack of continuity of care. People who benefited most had good general health and a single problem.
Patients showed discerning judgement regarding the 'dosage' of acupuncture they required, and combined acupuncture with exercises to good effect. Publicly funded health services should provide an acupuncture service that provides the optimal 'dosage' and uses pain relief to promote self-care. Further research to investigate the benefits of a service that combines Western-style and traditional acupuncture is planned.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Qualitative research has an important part to play in investigating how complex interventions are implemented within randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and what impact the RCT context has on participants, their behavior, and their outcomes. We explored these issues within a randomized sham-acupuncture controlled trial of traditional Chinese acupuncture for people with migraine.
All trial participants who consented to take part in this qualitative study were interviewed twice by a researcher who was blind to all trial data. The acupuncture practitioner was interviewed once. Nineteen (19) semistructured interviews, 30-60 minutes long, were transcribed, coded, and analyzed both across and within cases.
The 10 participants, 6 female, age 23-70 years had severe migraine and conventional treatment had been of limited benefit. They were satisfied with the organization of the trial and no acupuncture was perceived as obviously "sham." Most participants, and the practitioner, actively "played their part" in the trial, taking on research roles that differed from their usual roles of "patient" and "doctor." The resulting changes to their normal expectations and behavior influenced how the intervention was delivered and experienced. There was a reduction in talking, explanations, and participation, and treatment was focused on the migraine and usually excluded other conditions, even if the participants considered them to be a cause or a trigger of the migraine.
We conclude that treatment in the trial differed from that described in studies of "real life" traditional acupuncture. These differences affected the needling-the characteristic or specific intervention-as well as contextual factors. This trial design limitation appears to be inevitable when a sham-controlled design is used to research an intervention that is based on a holistic and participative treatment strategy. These findings should be taken into account in the design and interpretation of RCTs of complex interventions such as acupuncture.
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 04/2008; 14(2):199-208. DOI:10.1089/acm.2007.0682 · 1.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: On November 8-9, 2007, the Society for Acupuncture Research (SAR) hosted an international conference to mark the tenth anniversary of the landmark NIH [National Institutes of Health] Consensus Development Conference on Acupuncture. More than 300 acupuncture researchers, practitioners, students, funding agency personnel, and health policy analysts from 20 countries attended the SAR meeting held at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD. This paper summarizes important invited lectures in the area of how the field has developed in the past decade, along with a focus on appropriate strategies for advancing the field. Specific topics include: the impact of the 1997 NIH Acupuncture Consensus Conference on acupuncture research; whole-system strategies for developing the evidence without distorting the medicine; use of qualitative research methods to explore acupuncture as a complex intervention; use of qualitative research approaches to explore some "missing" topics in acupuncture research; and the impact of acupuncture research on clinical practice. A concluding section focuses on future directions in acupuncture research.
Journal of alternative and complementary medicine (New York, N.Y.) 10/2008; 14(7):883-7. DOI:10.1089/acm.2008.SAR-5 · 1.59 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To characterize the diverse nature of peoples' experiences of acupuncture treatment for chronic health problems. Specifically, the paper addresses how this analysis deepens our understanding of holism and its relation to the therapeutic theory base.
A secondary analysis of five longitudinal interview studies using a constant comparative method. Patients experienced different types of acupuncture--traditional (based on Chinese medicine) and Western-style (based on biomedicine) in a variety of settings in the U.K. and Australia.
The markedly different experiences of acupuncture treatment were best characterized in relation to the concept of holism. Being treated ;as a whole person' was associated with traditional acupuncture in both private and NHS practice, but not within a research trial setting. In the trial, both patients and practitioners ;played their part' in a scientific experiment. Holism was especially important to people with several health problems.
The findings suggests that the experience of holistic care, in the sense of ;being treated as a whole person' is dependent on four factors: (a) the therapeutic theory that underpins the treatment; (b) structural factors such as time and setting; (c) the intention of the practitioner; and (d) the intention and needs of the patient.
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