This study is a randomized controlled clinical trial to study the effectiveness of acupuncture on the perception of stress in patients who study or work on a large, urban college campus. The hypothesis was that verum acupuncture would demonstrate a significant positive impact on perceived stress as compared to sham acupuncture. This study included 111 participants with high self-reported stress levels who either studied or worked at a large, urban public university in the southwestern United States. However, only 62 participants completed the study. The participants were randomized into a verum acupuncture or sham acupuncture group. Both the groups received treatment once a week for 12 weeks. The Cohen's global measure of perceived stress scale (PSS-14) was completed by each participant prior to treatment, at 6 weeks, at 12 weeks, and 6 weeks and 12 weeks post-treatment completion. While participants of both the groups showed a substantial initial decrease in perceived stress scores, at 12 weeks post treatment, the verum acupuncture group showed a significantly greater treatment effect than the sham acupuncture group. This study indicates that acupuncture may be successful in decreasing the perception of stress in students and staff at a large urban university, and this effect persists for at least 3 months after the completion of treatment.
Keywords: acupuncture; college students; liver qi stagnation; stress.
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