Press releases

 

16th July 2018
Elderly patients with co-morbidities should be referred for regular acupuncture sessions to help reduce pressure on the NHS, the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) says.


The comments follow a systematic review, published in BMJ Open, which showed that continuity of care resulted in ‘significantly fewer deaths’ among patients and halved the risk of an emergency hospital admission.
The BAcC claims that the ‘continuity of patient-centred care’ provided by regular acupuncture, delivered by the same practitioner, over a considerable period of time helps relieve symptoms, reduce medication and improve wellbeing of elderly patients, therefore reducing their risk of hospital admission.


Mark Bovey, research manager at the BAcC, says there is significant evidence suggesting acupuncture is effective in relieving pain in conditions such as back pain, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia and other musculoskeletal complaints and acupuncturists could be playing a much bigger role: 'National health services across the developed world are struggling to cope with increasing numbers of old people with chronic illnesses. Conventional health and social care resources are overstretched and polypharmacy is rife, with its attendant side effects and interaction complications. Acupuncture could offer a useful additional resource.'
He highlights a report, Long-Term Acupuncture Therapy for Low-Income Older Adults with Multimorbidity: A Qualitative Study of Patient Perceptions, which was carried out in California last year and published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine.


The qualitative study, which involved 15 patients aged 60 years and older suffering from at least two chronic conditions, showed that a substantial number of participants were able to reduce their medication and maintain physical and mental health. In addition, they developed a strong trust in the clinic’s ability to support the totality of their health as individuals, which they contrasted to the specialised and impersonal approach of conventional medicine.
'What is perhaps most interesting,' Bovey comments, 'is how the acupuncture clinic became the main health hub for these people. They were diagnosed and treated, there was social and emotional support, practical advice and referral to other community resources. This was a one-stop, holistic service, the sort of coordinated care model that the NHS is striving for, and patients yearning for.'


Giving evidence to a 2013 House of Commons health committee investigation into how the NHS could better manage elderly people with long-term conditions, the late Dr George Lewith, former professor of health research at the University of Southampton, said conventional medicine could ‘learn a lot’ from complementary medicine.


'Being nice to people and approaching them as whole people has a big effect on their symptoms. [The whole-person approach] could be delivered within regular medicine [ . . . ] We need to learn the lessons from complementary medicine and deliver them better conventionally, but you are not going to get GPs who are working 14 hours a day within the current health system, and who are all pretty disillusioned, to have increased compassion,' he said.

--End--

 

Notes to Editor:

  • For further information, case studies or interviews please contact: Katie Osborne on 07990 922615 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

About the BAcC:

The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) has a membership of nearly 3,000 professionally qualified acupuncturists. It is the UK's largest professional body for the practice of acupuncture. BAcC members practise a traditional, holistic style of acupuncture diagnosis and treatment based on a system developed and refined over 2,000 years. To achieve BAcC membership, practitioners must first undertake extensive training in traditional acupuncture (minimum three years full-time or part-time equivalent), which includes physiology, anatomy and other biomedical sciences appropriate to the practice of acupuncture.

Traditional acupuncture:

Traditional acupuncture as practised by members of the BAcC is based on Chinese medicine principles that have been developed, researched and refined for over 2,500 years. Traditional acupuncture is holistic, not focused on isolated symptoms. It regards pain and illness, whether physical or mental, to be a sign the whole body is out of balance. Western or medical acupuncture is a more recent development practised predominantly by doctors and physiotherapists, who use acupuncture techniques within their existing scope of practice on the basis of a western medical diagnosis

Why use a BAcC practitioner?

Only British Acupuncture Council members belong to a Professional Standards Authority accredited register, providing professional guarantees of safety, education and continuing development (professionalstandards.org.uk)

Look for the letters MBAcC after the name of your acupuncturist to ensure:

  • extensive training – minimum three years degree level – with relevant western medicine including anatomy and physiology
  • adherence to BAcC codes of safe practice and professional conduct
  • compliance with current health and safety legislation
  • full insurance cover for medical malpractice and public/products liability
  • mandatory continuing professional development to keep knowledge and skills up to date
  • postgraduate study of special interests such as pain management and acupuncture for children

Find a BAcC registered acupuncturist near you

The British Acupuncture Council has welcomed a study, published in JAMA this week, which showed that women experiencing side effects of breast cancer treatment benefited from acupuncture.

Women taking aromatase inhibitors, which block the production of estrogen, in the early stages of breast cancer can often experience joint pain.

But this latest study, which was carried out by researchers at New York Presbyterian and included 226 post-menopausal women, demonstrated ‘statistically significant but modest improvements’ in the group that received true acupuncture, as opposed to a sham treatment or no treatment at all.

The president of the Italian Federation of Acupuncture Societies (F.I.S.A) has questioned the validity of a recent study which suggested that acupuncture did not improve the rate of live births among women undergoing IVF.

The study, Effect of Acupuncture vs Sham Acupuncture on Live Births Among Women Undergoing In Vitro Fertilization by Caroline A. Smith et al., was published in the Journal of the Americal Medical Association (JAMA) in May.

In a letter to the journal's editor, Carlo Maria Giovanardi, MD, has branded the research 'invalid' due to the lack of a 'true control group'.

He claims that sham acupuncture, which the researchers used as a control to compare with traditional acupuncture, is not 'an inert placebo', as the study suggests, but, on the contrary, could itself have a positive impact on pregnancy rates.

Veterans suffering from severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) experience 'significant clinical improvement' in their symptoms after just six sessions of acupuncture, a new study has shown.

The study, funded by the British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) and conducted by Healthwatch Norfolk, involved 26 veterans, who received free treatment from the charity Stand Easy, between July 2017 and January 2018.

Data were collected through three self-report questionnaires – the primary outcome measure was PTSD symptoms, as measured through the PTSD checklist Civilian Version (PLC-C). The secondary outcome measure was symptoms of depression and anxiety, measured through the the 12-item General Health Questionnaires (GHQ-12).

Of the 26 participants, 21 (80.8%) completed post-treatment outcomes. Five (19.2%) dropped out before finishing the six sessions.

"Positive results"

Ed Fraser, who led the project for HealthWatch Norfolk, said: "The positive results that we observed were highly unusual and extremely impressive when compared to other studies.  That is a remarkable outcome, which we were not expecting to see.

"Whilst we acknowledge that our evaluation had a number of limitations, we believe that our results provide good evidence for the short-term effectiveness of acupuncture as a treatment for PTSD, which justifies further research in this area."

The British Acupuncture Council (BAcC) has issued an official response to a series of recent media articles [1] which have suggested acupuncture is not effective in improving women’s chances of conceiving during IVF.

The articles relate to a study by Smith et al. 2018: Effect of Acupuncture vs Sham Acupuncture on Live Births Among Women Undergoing In Vitro Fertilization, which was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in May. [2].

A spokesperson for the BAcC said: “Due to design limitations of the study and the under-treatment of IVF patients with acupuncture it is misleading to conclude that the use of acupuncture does not improve the rate of live births among women undergoing IVF and that acupuncture has no bearing on the outcome of IVF.

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