Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Acupuncture on the increase in the UK

A major national survey of practitioners of acupuncture in the UK provides an up-to-date overview of the profession and concludes that acupuncture provides a substantial contribution to the country’s healthcare. A team of UK authors conducted a cross-sectional survey of 800 practitioners randomly chosen from the four major national acupuncturists’ professional associations. Data collected included demographic details, association membership, statutorily regulated status, practice setting, style of acupuncture practiced, diagnostic methods used and needle response sought. Practitioners additionally recorded details of their 10 most recent patients, including demographic details, primary reason for consulting and lifestyle advice provided. Of the 330 practitioners who responded, 29% were doctors, 29% physiotherapists, 15% nurses and 27% independent acupuncturists. Of these, 62% were women with median age of 48 years. The majority (68%) practiced in independent settings, while 42% practiced within the National Health Service. Patients most commonly consulted for low back, neck, shoulder and knee pain, as well as headaches and migraine. Treatment for infertility by independent acupuncturists was found to have increased by fivefold over a period of years. Based on the survey results, the authors estimate that almost four million acupuncture treatments were provided in the UK in 2009, of which approximately one-third were provided within the NHS. They conclude that the primary complaints for which patients consult acupuncturists reflect the growing evidence base on acupuncture for these conditions, and suggest that the survey data provides a basis for future decision-making regarding policy and practice. (Acupuncture in practice: mapping the providers, the patients and the settings in a national cross-sectional survey. BMJ Open. 2012 Jan 11;2(1):

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