Article Text

Integrating acupuncture into primary health care: the experience of an educational model implemented within the Brazilian Unified Health System in Florianópolis
  1. Ari Ojeda Ocampo Moré1,3,
  2. Charles Dalcanale Tesser1,2,
  3. Li Shih Min3,4
  1. 1Programa de Pós-Graduação em Saúde Coletiva, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC), Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil
  2. 2Department of Public Health, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil
  3. 3Serviço de Medicina Integrativa e Acupuntura – Hospital Universitário da Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil
  4. 4Department of Internal Medicine, Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ari Ojeda Ocampo Moré, Serviço de Medicina Integrativa e Acupuntura – Hospital Universitário – UFSC., R. Profa, Maria Flora Pausewang, s/n—Hospital Universitário—Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina, Trindade, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina CEP 88036-800, Brazil; darimore{at}


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.


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  • Contributors All authors made substantial contributions to the intellectual content of this article including the concept and design, acquisition and interpretation of data, and elaboration of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version for publication.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Ethics Committee from the Federal University of Santa Catarina.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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