What is the impact of a 12 month pilot acupuncture clinic in primary care? An evaluation of patient health outcomes, patient satisfaction and GPs’ views

By Pauline Moffatt

Abstract

Background
This study is a service evaluation of a 12-month acupuncture pilot in primary care in Salford, Greater Manchester. 

Aim
To evaluate the impact of the pilot on patient health outcomes, patient satisfaction and GPs’ views.

Methodology
The acupuncture clinic operated 1-day a week at two primary care centres.  GPs delegated patients to the clinic if they met the inclusion / exclusion criteria. Patients were offered up to ten free-of-charge treatments.

Quantitative data on each patient were gathered at intervals throughout the treatment period using the validated questionnaire MYMOP2 and a patient satisfaction questionnaire. Qualitative data were recorded in patient case notes and from two ‘open’ questions on the satisfaction questionnaire.  Patients who completed a course of treatment were followed up at 1 and 3-months by telephone to assess their outcome after treatment. GPs were interviewed at the end of the pilot to assess their views.

Traditional Chinese Medicine acupuncture treatments were given as would have been done in everyday practice. Auxiliary treatments (e.g. massage, electro-acupuncture) were used and lifestyle advice offered when appropriate. 

Results
50 patients were delegated to the acupuncture clinic. 8/50 withdrew. 8/50 dropped out.  25/34 patients completed ten sessions. 9/34 completed between 5-9 sessions.  43/50 of ‘Symptom 1’ symptoms were musculoskeletal conditions.

For patients who completed a course of treatment, MYMOP2 symptom scores decreased by two points on average and results were generally maintained at 3-month follow-up. There was a high level of patient satisfaction. Four out of every five patients benefitted and three out of four would consider having acupuncture again. The GPs were supportive and saw the benefits of having an in-house clinic.

Conclusion
A pilot acupuncture service in primary care had a positive impact on patient health outcomes, patient satisfaction and GPs views. Suggestions for further research and future services are considered.