"Miracle" or "Medicine": A Turning-Point Analysis of Patients' and Physicians' Shifting Views on Acupuncture

Greenberry Taylor, Yewande O Addie, Jason Burchett, Christopher Durkin, Paul Crawford, Christy J W Ledford

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: Acupuncture is one of the most widely used treatments of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) within the military's health system. The success of CAM integration is partially dependent on both providers' and patients' perceptions that acupuncture is health-promoting. The aim of this research was to identify turning points, or changes, across treatments that enhanced or inhibited physicians' and patients' perception of acupuncture as health-promoting. Materials and Methods: Using a retrospective-interview approach, interviews were conducted with 15 family medicine physicians practicing medical acupuncture in a family medicine setting and with 17 patients ( N  = 32). Turning points were separated into 2 groups (health-promoting or health-inhibiting). Similarities and differences between perspectives were noted. Results: Patients and physicians identified two changes that enhanced their perspective of acupuncture as health-promoting: (1) observed health changes and (2) pain-medicine/narcotic reduction/elimination. Patients identified their ability to fulfill personal or professional roles, whereas physicians identified (1) training experiences and (2) enhanced relationships with patients. Health-inhibiting changes in perspective were identified as logistical constraints/barriers by both parties, although their perspectives differed to some degree. Turning points that were viewed as health-inhibiting treatment were identified as clinical challenges by physicians and as a lack of consistency in care by patients. Conclusions: The insight from these findings can help identify areas where medical acupuncture can be improved to promote successful integration in conventional medicine settings, as well as how providers can tailor communication with patients about acupuncture.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)263-271
Number of pages9
JournalMedical Acupuncture
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2020


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