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Randomised controlled trial on the use of acupuncture in adults with chronic, non-responding anxiety symptoms
  1. Nick Errington-Evans
  1. Correspondence to Mr N Errington-Evans, Physiotherapy Department, Hywel Dda Health Board, Bro Cerwyn, Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire SA61 2PZ, UK; nickerringtonevans{at}yahoo.com

Abstract

Background A group of adults can be identified with chronic non-responding anxiety symptoms who have repeatedly accessed treatments through their GP, such as cognitive behaviour therapy, bibliotherapy and medication, but with no effect. These patients make heavy use of health service resources with no beneficial outcome. This study aims to test the effect of an acupuncture formula of three specific acupuncture points, suggested in a previous pilot study.

Method 40 participants from a psychiatry waiting list were randomised into one of two groups: group 1 (n=25) received 10 weeks of acupuncture at PC6, HT7 and LR3, and group 2 was a waiting list control group. The waiting list group (n=15) then received acupuncture. Both groups were followed up for 10 weeks after treatment. The outcome measure was the State and Trait Anxiety Inventory.

Results 36 patients completed the study, with two dropouts in each group. State anxiety scores in the acupuncture group decreased from 57.7 (SD 13.1) to 38.8 (12.0); scores in the waiting list control group decreased from 61.5 (11.6) to 60.6 (11.7). The difference was highly significant (p<0.0001). Similar changes were seen for trait anxiety scores. The control group showed similar statistically significant improvements when they received acupuncture. The improvements were maintained after 10 weeks of follow-up in each group.

Conclusions Acupuncture is a promising intervention for patients with chronic anxiety symptoms that have proven resistant to other forms of treatment.

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