Acupuncture in General Practice: a case study of an acupuncturist working in general medical practice.

Much of the research programme is in pursuit of our goal of exploring what role acupuncture could play in the NHS. We are therefore interested in the experience of acupuncturists working within the NHS and in ways of making the collaboration as effective as possible. To this end, we have undertaken a small action research case study to explore the process of establishing and providing an acupuncture service within general medical practice. A practice in Sheffield employed an acupuncturist on a sessional basis to provide treatments for their patients. Mike Fitter contributed research expertise to help set up the clinical audit and monitoring systems. Our aims were to identify:

  • the benefits to patients and GPs of offering acupuncture with general practice
  • the most effective ways of developing collaborative working and an integrated service.

Data on the clinical outcomes of the acupuncture treatments has been analysed, a symposium report has been presented by acupuncturist Pam Machin and we expect to publish the results as a case study on the delivery of acupuncture within a GP practice.

Concordance studies in Traditional Chinese medicine

Within the Low Back Pain Trial there has been the opportunity to investigate as a sub-study the diagnostic categories of traditional Chinese medicine for low back pain. Given that these back pain categories inform treatment, and because we will be obtaining robust data on outcomes for each category, we will be able to develop some useful data on the value of these traditional Chinese medical categories. To support this investigation, we will evaluate the concordance between acupuncture practitioners in their diagnoses. To establish inter-rater reliability we will use Cohen’s Kappa as a statistical measure agreement over and above chance. This work is being extended to exploring tongue diagnosis in traditional Chinese medicine, establishing the how widely this diagnostic tool is used by acupuncturists as well as assessing levels of practitioner concordance.