Acupuncture in Treatment of Pain

Written by: DrTonyWillcox | Apr 10, 2013

Acupuncture in Treatment of Pain

Abstract Objectives:
This article describes the feasibility and acceptability of the Acupuncture to Decrease Disparities in Outcomes of Pain Treatment (ADDOPT) trial, which incorporates acupuncture as an adjunct to usual treatment for chronic pain in urban health centers. Design: The study assessed feasibility (ability to carry out in real-world practice; adequacy of resources; acceptability to patients, acupuncturists, and primary care clinicians). Setting: Four (4) community health centers in the Bronx, NY, participating in the New York City Research and Improvement Networking Group (NYC RING), a practice-based research network dedicated to decreasing health disparities through primary care research and quality improvement in the urban safety-net setting, were involved. Subjects: The subjects comprised participants receiving care for chronic pain due to osteoarthritis, or neck or back pain at four Bronx health centers serving low-income families. Intervention: The intervention involved up to 14 weekly acupuncture treatments.

Dr. Tony Willcox with Dr. Pain and students at Anhui University of Chinese Medicine, China

Outcome measures: Pain and functional status are assessed during a 6-week run-in period before, during, and post acupuncture treatment using the Brief Pain Inventory and the 12-Item Short-Form Health Survey. This article reports on baseline status, referral and recruitment, engagement with treatment, and delivery of the intervention across sites. Results: Of 400 patients referred, 185 have initiated treatment. The majority of attending physicians have referred, most commonly for back pain (n=103; 60.6%). Participants’ average age is 53.9 (standard deviation [SD] 14.1); 54.1% are Hispanic; and 57.6% are on Medicaid. Half (48%) report “poor” or “fair” overall health. Patients report an average disability score of 74 (SD 27.0) and baseline pain severity on the Brief Pain Inventory of 6 (SD 1.9). Patients have completed a mean of 8.0 (SD 4.7) treatments; 72.4% complete >5 sessions. Conclusions: Clinicians in this urban setting have incorporated acupuncture into chronic pain management. Despite disability and lack of familiarity, patients initiate acupuncture and show high levels of engagement with treatment.


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1- By Department of Family and Social Medicine, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY. All rights reserved.

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