Acceptability, adaptation, and clinical outcomes of acupuncture provided in the emergency department: a retrospective pilot study Journal Article uri icon


  • OBJECTIVE: To evaluate acceptability and clinical outcomes of acupuncture on patient-reported pain and anxiety in an emergency department (ED). DESIGN: Observational, retrospective pilot study. SETTING: Abbott Northwestern Hospital ED, Minneapolis, MN. METHODS: Retrospective data was used to identify patients receiving acupuncture in addition to standard medical care in the ED between 11/1/13 and 12/31/14. Feasibility was measured by quantifying the utilization of acupuncture in a novel setting and performing limited tests of its efficacy. Patient-reported pain and anxiety scores were collected by the acupuncturist using an 11-point (0-10) numeric rating scale before (pre) and immediately after (post) acupuncture. Efficacy outcomes were change in pain and anxiety scores. RESULTS: During the study period, 436 patients were referred for acupuncture, 279 of whom were approached by the acupuncturist during their ED visit. Consent for acupuncture was obtained from 89% (248/279). A total of 182 patients, who had a pre-pain score >0 and non-missing anxiety scores, were included in analyses. Of the 52% (94/182) who did not have analgesics before or during the acupuncture session, the average decrease of 2.37 points (95% CI: 1.92, 2.83) was not different (p > 0.05) than the mean decrease of 2.68 points for those receiving analgesics (95% CI 2.21, 3.15). The average pre-anxiety score was 4.73 points (SD = 3.43) and the mean decrease was 2.27 points (95% CI: 1.89, 2.66). CONCLUSIONS: Results from this observational trial indicate that acupuncture was acceptable and effective for pain and anxiety reduction, in conjunction with standard medical care. These results will inform future randomized trials.

Link to Article

publication date

  • 2017