A major national survey of practitioners of acupuncture in the UK provides an up-to-date overview of the profession and concludes that acupuncture provides a substantial contribution to the country’s healthcare.
A team of UK authors conducted a cross-sectional survey of 800 practitioners randomly chosen from the four major national acupuncturists’ professional associations. Of the 330 practitioners who responded, 29% were doctors, 29% physiotherapists, 15% nurses and 27% independent acupuncturists.
The majority (68%) practiced in independent settings, while 42% practiced within the National Health Service. patients most commonly consulted for low back, neck, shoulder and knee pain, as well as headaches and migraine. Treatment for infertility by independent acupuncturists was found to have increased by fivefold over a period of years.
The authors estimate that almost 4 million acupuncture treatments were provided in the UK in 2009, of which approximately one-third were provided within the NHS. They conclude that the primary complaints for which patients consult acupuncturists reflect the growing evidence base on acupuncture for these conditions, and suggest that the survey data provides a basis for future decision-making regarding policy and practice. ( Acupuncture in practice: mapping the providers, the patients and the settings in a national cross-sectional survey, BMJ Open. 2012 Jan 11;2(1):e000456.Print 2012)