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Use of acupuncture in the USA: changes over a decade (2002–2012)
  1. Jia Cui1,
  2. Shaobai Wang2,
  3. Jiehui Ren1,
  4. Jun Zhang1,
  5. Jun Jing1
  1. 1Department of Sociology, Research Center for Public Health, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China
  2. 2Key Laboratory of Exercise and Health Science, Ministry of Education, Shanghai University of Sport, Shanghai, China
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jun Jing, Room B405, Medical School, 30 Shuangqing Rd, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, P.R. China; wangs{at}


Background The use of acupuncture has gained popularity in the USA. The number of acupuncture users and licensed acupuncturists increased by 50% and 100%, respectively, between 2002 and 2012, coinciding with increasing acknowledgement of the importance and efficacy of acupuncture over this time period.

Methods This paper presents new findings from the complementary health approaches section of the 2012 National Health Interview Survey (n=33 373 respondents). In particular, data on the use of acupuncture and user characteristics were compared against data collected from an earlier survey in 2002. Statistical analyses included weighted distribution, logistical regression and Pearson's χ2 tests.

Results The profile of the most common acupuncture users comprised the following sociodemographics age 41–65 years (47.4%); female gender (69.6%); and non-Hispanic (85.3%) and/or white (78.1%) ethnicity. Respondents also tended to be US citizens (92.1%) with some college education (57.1%) and in very good to excellent health (60.8%). The proportion of respondents using acupuncture for treatment of a specific health problem, as opposed to promotion of general wellness, was 84.7% in 2002 and 55.3% in 2012.

Conclusions Our data suggest a growing development of acupuncture in the USA. We anticipate that the findings of our analysis of the changes in acupuncture use over the 10-year period from 2002 to 2012 will provide information for users, acupuncturists, researchers and the general public to help better understand the status of acupuncture and reasons for its usage, and to anticipate future trends for acupuncture use in the USA.


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  • JC and SW contributed equally.

  • Contributors All authors made substantial contributions to the conception and design of the work, acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of the data, drafting of the manuscript and/or critical revision for important intellectual content. All authors approved the final version of the manuscript accepted for publication and agree to be accountable for the integrity of all aspects of the work.

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

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