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Knowledge of and willingness to try acupuncture for postoperative nausea and vomiting: an Australian survey of surgical patients


Introduction Level 1 evidence supports the use of acupuncture as a safe and effective treatment for postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV). However, to date, very few hospitals in Western countries have incorporated this technique into their management strategies.

Objective To conduct a survey to establish patients’ knowledge and opinions of acupuncture as a treatment option for the management of PONV in a large Western teaching hospital that did not offer acupuncture.

Methods Over a 4-week period, a self-completed, anonymous questionnaire survey was distributed to 171 consecutive patients attending the preadmission clinic pending surgery.

Results Overall, 161 participants met the selection criteria and completed the survey (100%). The majority of them had a European background (88.8%) and were over 40 years old (87.6%). Seventy-eight participants (48%) had a history of nausea and vomiting and 39 (24%) had suffered from PONV. One hundred and four (65%) and 110 (68%) patients, respectively, stated that they would be willing to try acupuncture in hospital or at home following surgery to prevent or reduce PONV. Only 25 (15.5%) participants knew that acupuncture could be used to treat nausea and vomiting; however, 140 (87%) indicated that they would be willing to try the therapy after being informed of the potential benefit of acupuncture for PONV prevention/reduction. Those with previous experience of acupuncture were ~3.9 times more likely to be willing to use acupuncture for PONV than those without.

Conclusion Patients attending an Australian tertiary hospital showed an overwhelming interest in acupuncture to manage PONV. This provides strong support for the potential implementation of acupuncture in an acute hospital setting.

  • Acupuncture
  • post-operative nausea and vomiting
  • patient
  • survey
  • Australia Acupuncture
  • acupressure
  • anaesthetics

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