Critical Factors to Practicing Medical Acupuncture in Family Medicine: Patient and Physician Perspectives

Christy J W Ledford, Carla L Fisher, David A Moss, Paul F Crawford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Although an increasing number of physicians are completing medical acupuncture training, only half of those physicians are able to successfully incorporate acupuncture into practice. We conducted a qualitative study to identify the factors and barriers that can enhance and impede physicians' delivery of and patients' engagement in medical acupuncture within the family medicine clinic.

METHODS: We conducted interviews with 15 family physicians and 17 patients in a US family medicine clinic that has integrated medical acupuncture into its practice. Audio recordings were transcribed and analyzed by 2 members of the study team in ATLAS.ti, using the constant comparative method.

RESULTS: We identified 3 physician themes of factors/barriers that impact delivery/engagement: 1) patients' aversion to needles, 2) time challenges, and 3) access to resources. We identified 3 additional themes from patient interviews: 1) appointment access; 2) wanting noninvasive, no side effects alternative; and 3) openness to anything.

DISCUSSION: The factors and barriers reported by physicians/patients help illustrate conditions needed to enhance physicians' ability to provide acupuncture and patients' willingness to engage and sustain it. Participants' experiences help to illustrate strategic approaches to managing these barriers-strategies that can be used by other individuals/institutions to enhance care delivery and patient engagement.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-242
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Board of Family Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2018


  • Acupuncture Therapy/adverse effects
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Family Practice/methods
  • Female
  • Health Workforce/statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Needles/adverse effects
  • Patient Preference
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Physicians, Family/organization & administration
  • Qualitative Research
  • Surveys and Questionnaires/statistics & numerical data
  • Time Factors


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