strong>Investigating an Innovative Acupuncture Service Model: Characterization of community acupuncture clients
Kim Tippens, ND, MSAOM
Maria Chao, DrPH, MPA; Erin Connelly, MA
span style=”font-size:small;”>Acupuncture has become more popular in the United States with an increase in use from 2 million in 2002 to 3 million in 2007. However, acupuncture is utilized by a limited segment of the population—users tend to have higher income and education and be of either Asian or non-Hispanic white ethnicity. The lower cost of treatment of the community acupuncture model may allow a broader segment of the population to afford acupuncture. It may also allow for more frequent treatments, which in turn could improve the effectiveness of acupuncture.
span style=”font-size:small;”>The 2007 National Health Interview Survey collected data on acupuncture use in the United States.We compared national acupuncture users with clients at the Working Class Acupuncture clinics in Portland, Oregon to see if there were differences in socio-demographic factors, health factors, and frequency of seeking acupuncture treatment. Over six weeks, we distributed surveys to new and existing adult clients at the two Working Class Acupuncture (WCA) clinics. Surveys collected data on client demographics, socio-economic status, health behaviors, access and utilization of health services, and satisfaction with the CA model. Of the 500 surveys distributed, 478 were returned.
span>•WCA clients are primarily white (87%) and female (72%)
span>•77% with annual household income of less than $55,000
span>•69% completed a college degree or higher level of education
Compared to a nationally representative sample of U.S. acupuncture users, WCA clients had higher educational attainment and lower household income. Clients of WCA clinics represent a broader socio-economic spectrum compared to national acupuncture users but are more homogenous racially. Availability of accessible, low cost treatment is a primary reason why Portland clients choose CA services.
span style=”font-family:’Times New Roman’;”>Clients of WCA were similar to acupuncture users nationwide with regard to self-reported health status and medical reasons for seeking acupuncture treatment. WCA clients are also more likely than national acupuncture users to receive frequent acupuncture treatments (> 1/month). How the frequency of treatment affects various health conditions, including preventive, chronic, and acute conditions, is an important topic for future research.
Study findings suggest that local community acupuncture clinics improve economic access to acupuncture though racial/ethnic barriers, beyond economic factors, remain a challenge. Continued monitoring of the community acupuncture movement is warranted to examine issues of access, patient satisfaction, and clinical outcomes of affordable acupuncture.