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Pain Med. 2010 Apr;11(4):530-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2010.00815.x. Epub 2010 Mar 1.

A survey of selected physician views on acupuncture in pain management.

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1
MGH Center for Translational Pain Research, Department of Anesthesia, Critical Care, and Pain Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA 02114, USA. llchen@partners.org

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To collect information on the role of acupuncture in pain management from pain physicians and referral physicians who manage clinical pain conditions.

METHODS:

The survey was conducted between 2007 and 2008 through nationwide direct mail or e-mail to 1083 physicians who are currently practicing in the United States. We divided our 16 survey questions into five categories: 1) physician's attitude toward acupuncture as a modality of pain management; 2) physician's preference or belief with regard to the type of pain condition suitable for acupuncture referrals; 3) timing for making acupuncture referrals (e.g., acupuncture as a first line pain treatment option or a last approach after failed conventional pain management); 4) clinical assessment criteria for the effectiveness of acupuncture therapy; and 5) barriers to making acupuncture referrals (e.g., physician's personal view, insurance issues, patient refusal, etc.). The survey results were calculated and interpreted as the percentage rate of response.

RESULT:

The results indicate that an overwhelming majority of survey responders have a positive attitude and favorable experience with using acupuncture as an alternative modality for chronic pain management. However, our survey responders are mostly from teaching hospitals, suggesting a possible gap between teaching hospitals and other medical facilities (private practice and community hospitals) in utilizing acupuncture for pain management. The lack of insurance coverage and facility for acupuncture treatment are two primary barriers to making acupuncture referrals.

CONCLUSIONS:

The survey results indicate that acupuncture is considered by many physicians to be a useful alternative modality for chronic pain management.

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