Exploring acupuncturists' perceptions of treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis

Complement Ther Med. 2007 Jun;15(2):101-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2006.09.008. Epub 2006 Nov 3.


Aims: To outline acupuncturists' perceptions of treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), exploring the impact of practitioner affiliation to a traditional or western theoretical base.

Methods: Qualitative study utilising Grounded Theory Method. Nineteen acupuncturists were chosen via theoretical sampling. In-depth semi-structured interviews were tape-recorded and transcribed. Field notes were also taken. Emerging categories and themes were identified.

Results: Inter-affiliatory differences were identified in the treatments administered and the scope and emphasis of intended therapeutic effects. Limited divergence was found between acupuncturists' perceptions of treatment outcomes. Factors perceived as impacting on treatment outcomes were identified.

Conclusions: Clinical trials of acupuncture in RA may have failed to administer a treatment which reflects that administered in clinical practice. Outcome measures employed in clinical trials of acupuncture in RA, as well as established outcome indices for RA, may lack the necessary breadth to accurately assess acupuncture's efficacy. Acupuncturist affiliation has demonstrable implications for the practice and research of acupuncture.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy / methods*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / therapy*
  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • England
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Humans
  • Philosophy, Medical*
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome