Article Text

Knowledge of and willingness to try acupuncture for postoperative nausea and vomiting: an Australian survey of surgical patients
  1. Evan M Weeks1,
  2. Jane Trinca2,
  3. Zhen Zheng3
  1. 1 Pain Clinic, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (CUHFT), Cambridge, UK
  2. 2 Barbara Walker Pain Management Centre, St Vincent Hospital, Victoria, Australia
  3. 3 School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Zhen Zheng, School of Health and Biomedical Sciences, RMIT University, PO BOX 71, Bundoora, 3083 Victoria, Australia; Zhen.zheng{at}


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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  • Contributors EMW, JT and ZZ developed the concept and methods of the study. EMW conducted the study and JT oversaw its conduct. EMW and ZZ analysed the data. EMW drafted the first version. All authors contributed to the data interpretation, manuscript revision and approved the final version accepted for publication.

  • Funding ZZ is funded by an NHMRC TRIP Fellowship (reference no. 1110446).

  • Competing interests EMW and JT have no competing interests to declare. ZZ is conducting an implementation study of acupressure for PONV in a public hospital in Victoria, Australia.

  • Ethics approval Austin Health Human Research Ethics Committee.

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

  • Correction notice This paper has been amended since it was published Online First. Owing to a scripting error, some of the publisher names in the references were replaced with ‘BMJ Publishing Group’. This only affected the full text version, not the PDF. We have since corrected these errors and the correct publishers have been inserted into the references.

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