Online Program

Integrating acupuncture into a community health center: An ongoing managed care project

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 11:30 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.

Elizabeth Sommers, PhD, MPH, LicAc, Health Policy and Management, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
A community health center and clinic specializing in acupuncture partnered with a large managed care organization to determine whether acupuncture treatment might influence clinical outcomes and costs of care. Members of the managed care organization were referred through their physicians. Results of the project's first 6 years will be presented. Data for this observational assessment were collected on demographics, health history, clinical outcomes, and associated costs of care. All patients received individualized acupuncture treatments provided by licensed acupuncturists according to standards of care. Data were collected on 530 individuals. Seventy-eight percent were female, 47% were Hispanic/Latino, 13% were African-American, and mean age was 39 years. Five hundred individuals received one or more acupuncture treatments. Of these, 73% were referred for pain and 16% were referred for headache. Mean reduction in pain based on a 10-point Likert scale was -1.8 (p < 0.0001). Duration of painful episodes decreased (p < 0.0001) and quality of life improved as indicated by the SF1 (p = 0.08). Headache intensity levels were significantly reduced (p < 0.0001) and quality of life improved (p = 0.0009). Improvements in headache-related symptoms improved as well: vision (p = 0.02), fatigue (p = 0.01), sleep (p = 0.03), irritability (p = 0.004). Preliminary cost estimates suggest a decrease in other healthcare costs ($40/member/month) and increased likelihood that individuals who received acupuncture continued their membership in the managed care plan. Preliminary results indicate that offering acupuncture in a community health setting is acceptable and desirable by patients and physicians. Favorable clinical and cost-of-care outcomes were observed in this ongoing project.

Learning Areas:

Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Identify elements needed to evaluate clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, and cost-savings Demonstrate the feasibility and acceptability of this form of care for a predominnantly Hispanic/Latino population

Keyword(s): Community Health Planning, Latino Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am responsible for design and overview of all aspects of this project. All work done under my supervision.
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.