Acupuncture for menopausal hot flashes: a qualitative study about patient experiences

J Altern Complement Med. 2009 Feb;15(2):153-8. doi: 10.1089/acm.2008.0310.


Objective: The aim of this study was to describe any changes in health experienced by postmenopausal women after having acupuncture treatment for hot flashes.

Materials and methods: Our sample was drawn from women participating in a randomized controlled trial (ACUFLASH) investigating the effect of acupuncture on menopausal hot flashes. One hundred and twenty-seven (127) women from the intervention group who had received a course of 10 acupuncture treatments were asked to make a written statement about any kind of change they had perceived that they considered could be related to the acupuncture treatment. Qualitative data were analyzed using systematic text condensation.

Results: Many women reported a substantial impact from the treatment with respect to a reduction in frequency and intensity of hot flashes both by night and by day. Changes related to improved sleep pattern were also reported, and a variety of different bodily and mental changes were described (i.e., feeling in a good mood, not so run down, and calmer). Several women were uncertain whether any changes had occurred. A few reported feeling worse.

Conclusions: Our results describe a variety of health changes that may not be revealed by limited outcome measures in acupuncture studies. Further analysis of the relationship between such bodily experiences could lead to the development of hypotheses or models for how the acupuncture effect is mediated in complex bodily systems, and also contribute to development of outcome measures relevant for acupuncture studies.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture Therapy*
  • Affect
  • Female
  • Hot Flashes / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Menopause* / physiology
  • Menopause* / psychology
  • Middle Aged
  • Qualitative Research
  • Sleep
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Uncertainty