Send to

Choose Destination
J Altern Complement Med. 2014 Nov;20(11):838-45. doi: 10.1089/acm.2014.0139. Epub 2014 Oct 29.

"Well I'm safe because…" - acupuncturists managing conflicting treatment recommendations when treating threatened miscarriage: a mixed-methods study.

Author information

1 The National Institute of Complementary Medicine, University of Western Sydney , Penrith, Australia .



To explore how contraindications to the use of acupuncture during pregnancy are managed in clinical practice.


Acupuncturists' views on their management of threatened miscarriage were sought by using a mixed-methods design involving a self-completed questionnaire and semi-structured interviews. An online survey was distributed through the Australian and New Zealand acupuncture associations requesting practitioners' to access an online link to a questionnaire hosted by Survey Monkey. This questionnaire examined acupuncturist's views on safety and the use of Traditional Chinese Medicine treatment modalities. Descriptive and bivariate statistics were used to analyze data. Thirteen participants were purposefully selected from the survey responses to further explore treatment management. These interviews were recorded via Skype, transcribed, and analyzed by using thematic analysis.


Of 370 respondents, 214 (58%) had treated women for threatened miscarriage within the previous year. Approximately half (58%) had treated four or fewer women, while a minority (14%) had treated 15 or more. The use of abdominal and blood invigorating points reflected diverse treatment strategies within acupuncture textbooks. While the majority avoided acupuncture points traditionally cautioned against in pregnancy, 13% would use LI 4, 22% would use SP 6, and 31% would use BL 32. Two safety themes emerged: "Well I'm safe because…justifying diverse approaches" and "A limited knowledge base-sorting it out for yourself," illustrating how practitioners justified safe practice and had difficulty obtaining trustworthy treatment knowledge.


Practitioners demonstrated interest in treating threatened miscarriage. All practitioners saw themselves as providing safe treatment. Those using historically contraindicated points justified their use on the basis of personal opinion, advice from trusted others, and clinical experience with a small number of women. In treating at-risk pregnancies, these justifications may be inadequate. Further research exploring the views of practitioners who are experienced in this specialized area would inform clinical practice for this common complication of early pregnancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center