Article Text


Associations between maternal characteristics and women's responses to acupuncture during labour: a secondary analysis from a randomised controlled trial
  1. Linda Vixner1,2,
  2. Erica Schytt3,4,
  3. Lena B Mårtensson5
  1. 1Department of Women's and Children's Health, Division of Reproductive Health, Karolinska Institutet, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
  2. 2School of Health and Social Studies, Dalarna University, Falun, Sweden
  3. 3Centre for Clinical Research Dalarna, Falun, Sweden
  4. 4Bergen University Collage, Bergen, Norway
  5. 5School of Health and Education, University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Linda Vixner, School of Health and Social Studies, Dalarna University, Falun 791 88, Sweden; lvi{at}


Background Patient characteristics are modulators of pain experience after acupuncture treatment for chronic pain. Whether this also applies to labour pain is unknown.

Aim To examine for associations between maternal characteristics and response to acupuncture in terms of labour pain intensity in close proximity to the treatment (within 60 min) and over a longer time period (up to 240 min), and whether or not epidural analgesia is used, before and after adjustment for obstetric status upon admission to the labour ward.

Methods Cohort study (n=253) using data collected for a randomised controlled trial. Associations were examined using linear mixed models and logistic regression analyses. Tests of interactions were also applied to investigate whether maternal characteristics were influenced by treatment group allocation.

Results In close proximity to the treatment, advanced age and cervical dilation were associated with lower pain scores (mean difference (MD) −13.2, 95% CI −23.4 to −2.9; and MD −5.0, 95% CI −9.6 to −0.5, respectively). For the longer time period, labour pain was negatively associated with age (MD −11.8, 95% CI −19.6 to −3.9) and positively associated with dysmenorrhoea (MD 5.5, 95% CI 1.6 to 9.5). Previous acupuncture experience and advanced cervical dilatation were associated with higher and lower use of epidural analgesia (OR 2.7, 95% CI 1.3 to 5.9; and OR 0.3, 95% CI 0.1 to 0.5, respectively). No interactions with treatment allocation were found.

Conclusions This study did not identify any maternal characteristics associated with women's responses to acupuncture during labour.

Trial registration number NCT01197950; Post-results.

Statistics from


  • Twitter Follow Linda Vixner at @L_Vixner

  • Contributors LV, ES, and LBM participated in the study design. ES, and LBM obtained funding for the study. LV was the trial manager, and collected and analysed the data. LV drafted the article, which was then revised for important intellectual content by all the authors.

  • Funding This study was funded by grants from the Centre for Clinical Research Dalarna, Karolinska Institutet, Uppsala-Örebro Regional Research Council, University of Skövde, FOU Fyrbodal, Magnus Bergvall Stiftelse, and Dalarna University, Sweden

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval Regional Ethical Review Board, Gothenburg, 15 May 2008, Dnr: 136-08.

  • Participant consent obtained.

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

  • Author's note This paper is a part of Linda Vixners thesis “Acupuncture for Labour Pain” published by Karolinska Institutet 2015.

Request permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.