Bishop, F., Lewith, G. and Yardley, L.
A qualitative analysis of patients’ experiences of acupuncture: Implications for understanding non-specific effects. Presented at ECIM 2008.
European Journal of Integrative Medicine, 1, supplement 1, . (doi:10.1016/j.eujim.2008.08.065).
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Background: Acupuncture is a popular form of alternative medicine. It has shown large non-specific effects, but which factors contribute to these effects is unclear. We therefore aimed to identify the psychosocial factors that could contribute to treatment outcomes in acupuncture.
Methods: We interviewed a purposive sample of 35 individuals (29 women) who had used acupuncture for various conditions and to varying effect. We used framework analysis to summarise and interpret the data.
Findings: Participants described intra-personal and inter-personal experiences before, during and after acupuncture needling that could contribute to treatment outcomes. Key themes in the analytic framework reflect individual physicality, cognition and emotion; social negotiation and support through the therapeutic relationship and close social networks; and societal and environmental influences.
Discussion: The psychosocial context of acupuncture from patients’ perspective is broad. We must expand placebo theories in order to generate more comprehensive understandings of non-specific treatment effects in complex interventions.
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