Auricular acupuncture to relieve health care workers' stress and anxiety: impact on caring

Dimens Crit Care Nurs. May-Jun 2014;33(3):151-9. doi: 10.1097/DCC.0000000000000039.


Background: The caring relationship between individual health care providers and patients is a critical component of healing. However, caring can result in physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual symptoms in providers that can interfere with their capacity to enter into these relationships.

Purpose: The aim of this study was to evaluate whether auricular acupuncture is an effective tool for reducing health care provider stress and anxiety and, second, to determine if auricular acupuncture impacts provider capacity for developing caring relationships with patients.

Methods: Preintervention and postintervention surveys were evaluated to see if auricular acupuncture was associated with changes in State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI), Professional Quality of Life, and Caring Ability Inventory scores.

Results: Compared with baseline, participants had a significant reduction in state anxiety (STAI), trait anxiety (STAI), burnout, and secondary traumatic stress scores (Professional Quality of Life). Significant increases were noted in courage and patience, 2 dimensions of the Caring Ability Inventory.

Conclusions: Auricular acupuncture is an effective intervention for the relief of stress/anxiety in providers and supports heightened capacity for caring.

MeSH terms

  • Acupuncture, Ear*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires