221607 Enhancing access to acupuncture: A comparative study of national and community-based rates of use

Monday, November 8, 2010

Maria T. Chao, DrPH , Osher Center for Integrative Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA
Kimberly Tippens, ND, MSAOM , Helfgott Research Institute, National College of Natural Medicine, Portland, OR
Erin Connelly, MA , Helfgott Research Institute, National College of Natural Medicine, Portland, OR
Background: Estimates of acupuncture use in the United States document a notable increase from 2.1 million in 2002 to 3.1 million in 2007. It is unknown, however, the extent to which increases in use reflect greater racial/ethnic and socioeconomic diversity among acupuncture users. The purpose of this study is to compare socio-demographic factors of national acupuncture users with clients at a local acupuncture clinic aimed at improving access to acupuncture.

Methods: Sociodemographic data of acupuncture users from 2007 National Health Interview Survey were analyzed and compared to preliminary demographic data of clients of Working Class Acupuncture (WCA), a community acupuncture clinic in Portland, OR. All analyses were performed with Stata 9.0.

Results: Compared to acupuncture users nationwide, clients of WCA had similar self-reported health status (13% in poor or fair health) and comparable medical reasons for seeking acupuncture treatment (87% used acupuncture for a specific health problem). Acupuncture users in the U.S. represented greater racial diversity (73% White, 5% Black, 10% Latino, 11% Asian) compared to WCA clients (84% White, 2% Black, 5% Latino, 4% Asian, 5% other). A majority of WCA clients (81%) had household income of less than $55,000, compared to 37% of national acupuncture users.

Conclusion: Preliminary data provide support that local community acupuncture clinics improve economic access to acupuncture though racial/ethnic barriers, beyond economic factors, remain a challenge. Racial/ethnic representation may reflect local demographics. Continued monitoring of the community acupuncture movement is warranted to examine issues of access, patient satisfaction, and clinical outcomes of affordable acupuncture.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss recent national trends in the use of acupuncture. 2. Identify primary medical reasons for acupuncture use. 3. Evaluate whether the community acupuncture model can improve racial/ethnic and socioeconomic access to acupuncture.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have extensive training in public health and the epidemiology of complementary and alternative medicine use in the United States.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.