Objective: Primary health care (PHC) is the main entry point and the first level of contact for individuals, families and communities within the Brazilian public health system. Considering that few studies have investigated the use of acupuncture in PHC, this article presents our experience in the city of Florianópolis when integrating acupuncture into PHC using an educational programme developed to teach acupuncture to primary care physicians (PCPs).
Methods: The course programme was designed using the WHO standards for acupuncture training and discussed at three consensus meetings. Between 2011 and 2014 three iterations of an introductory acupuncture course for PCPs were offered. During this period 53 physicians finished the programme.
Results: The number of acupuncture sessions in PHC rose from 1349 in 2011 to 6488 in 2015. It was observed in 2015 that 81% of the course participants working in PHC were regularly using acupuncture in their daily practice, with a mean number of sessions of 11.35 sessions per month. Moreover, collaborative work, which started during the course between the PCPs and the acupuncture specialists in secondary and tertiary public health care, helped to increase the quality of acupuncture referrals and facilitate clinical case discussions.
Conclusions: Our experience in the city of Florianópolis shows that teaching acupuncture to PCPs is a sustainable model that can help introduce acupuncture into PHC. Furthermore it can expand access to acupuncture treatment for the population and increase the communication between PCPs and acupuncture specialists.
Keywords: ACUPUNCTURE; MEDICAL EDUCATION & TRAINING; PRIMARY CARE; PUBLIC HEALTH.
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