The results of a survey sent to 89,000 acupuncture patients treated between 2014 and 2015 were recently released and showed the levels of patient satisfaction exceeded national benchmark averages of conventional care providers. This is really great news for both the public and the acupuncture profession. It is one thing to tell people that acupuncture is effective and acupuncturists are highly professional but here we have the results of a government developed survey tool, administered by an accredited, third-party vendor, that shows what real acupuncture patients have to say about their experience with their acupuncturist. Most of the patients in this survey were treated with musculoskeletal pain syndromes especially with low back and neck pain as the top two conditions.
Here are some of the most important stats:
95%-99% rated their overall quality of care as good to excellent.
80% – 87% rated their acupuncturists at a 9 or a 10 on a 1-10 point scale.
0.014% (13 out of 89,769) patients reported a minor adverse event and no serious ones.
88%-93% said their acupuncturist was successful in addressing their primary complaint!
This last stat about success in treating a primary complaint/condition is especially important to stress. So many people think that because acupuncture is usually tried as a last resort, the odds are not very good that it would be effective for them – like they are scraping the bottom of the barrel. With this survey, we can tell people that somewhere around 9 out of 10 people who tried acupuncture for common pain conditions were happy with the results they got, their acupuncturists in general, and the acupuncturist’s office and staff. This information should also be used to help other healthcare providers see they can feel confident referring to an acupuncturist. And lastly, we should emphasize the results of this survey with policymakers who are considering the expanded use of acupuncture especially to combat the opioid crisis in North America or other high risk pain medications in other countries.
In addition to how this survey should be a great tool for us to use in educating the public, other healthcare providers and policymakers, this should also have an impact on acupuncture research. It calls into question so many random controlled acupuncture trials that only show acupuncture somewhere between 40%-50% effective and not doing better than sham acupuncture. I will be working more on bringing to light the problems in the “real” acupuncture arms of sham controlled research now that this study has been published.
I will soon write another blog post giving more extensive details on this survey but wanted to get the good news out ASAP. You can download the survey here. I want to thank the people at American Specialty Health for making this available for widespread distribution. I believe this it is one of the most important studies ever done on acupuncture because it shows the real-world results of a large number of people with common health problems treated by well-trained acupuncturists.
More on this to follow, but a few salient details below:
The study utilized the “Clinician & Group Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems” (CG-CAHPS®) survey developed by the Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).
These “CHAPS” surveys were designed to provide a standardized tool to measure patients’ experiences with healthcare providers, health plans and health systems. They are administered by independent, accredited contractors, and the results are fed into a national database and compiled to help establish national benchmarks of patient satisfaction.
CHAPS surveys can be supplemented with some additional “proprietary” question and ASH added some of its own including the question asking how effective the acupuncturists were at addressing the patient’s primary complaint.
The results of the surveys reported here were from patients seen within ASH’s credentialed network of 6,000 licensed acupuncturists within the first 6 months of 2014 and 2015 totaling over 89,000 patients ages 18 or over.