Clinical observation of 10 cases of insomnia treated by acupuncture - an outcome study

By Irina Szmelskyj


"The aim of this study was to investigate the effect of TCM acupuncture treatment upon insomnia outcomes. The definitions, epidemiology, Western Medical and Traditional Chinese Medical treatment of insomnia are reviewed in the context of various approaches to its management. Previous research has suggested that acupuncture may be an effective treatment for insomnia. The null hypothesis: acupuncture treatment would have no effect upon insomnia was tested. Using convenience sampling procedures 10 eligible participants were recruited. Participants underwent baseline measurement consisting of PSQI, SF-36 and demographic data collection. Each participant kept a sleep diary. Based on the elicited TCM history an individualised treatment protocol was used. Each participant received 10 acupuncture treatments over a 7 to 10 week period. PSQI and SF-36 were re-administered. Data was analysed using SPSSv10. Statistical significance was determined using the non-parametric Wilcoxon Signed Ranks Test.

All participants completed the full course of treatment. Improvements in PSQI and SF-36 scores were found. The Global PSQI score improved in response to treatment from 12.1 to 7.8 (p<0.009). Several PSQI sub-component scores reached statistical significance, including Subjective Quality of sleep (p<0.005), Sleep Duration (p<0.033), Sleep Latency (p<0.020). Scores on theSF-36 also improved, although only the Bodily Pain sub-scale improved significantly (p<0.027). Sleep diaries showed non-significant improvements.

Qualitatively all participants¹ sleep improved. The null hypothesis was rejected. The small sample size, method of recruitment and lack of control or placebo groups limits the external validity of the findings. The internal validity may be greater and is potentially generalisable to patients presenting for insomnia treatment in TCM acupuncture practice. Recommendations are made for future studies."