Acupuncturist perceptions of serving as a clinical trial practitioner.

Research paper by M E ME Thompson, J J Jenkins, A A Smucker, S S Smithwick, D D Groopman, L M LM Pastore

Indexed on: 15 May '12Published on: 15 May '12Published in: Complementary Therapies in Medicine


This article describes the experience of four acupuncturists in terms of what it meant for them to be a practitioner in a recently completed sham-controlled acupuncture randomized control trial (RCT) with a standardized protocol.At the completion of the RCT for women with ovarian dysfunction, study acupuncturists (2 male MD/acupuncturists and 2 female professional acupuncturists) were queried about their perceptions of participating in the RCT using both written responses to 5 open-ended questions and a focus group interview. Data was analyzed to categorize responses and identify themes.Virginia, USA.The acupuncturists' experience of participating in a RCT was generally very positive, including: usual practitioner/participant relationships, collegial sharing, and increased patient volume and diversity. There was angst expressed about the unknown RCT results. While there were concerns about standardizing the acupuncture session ("dilutes the power of acupuncture therapeutics"), the acupuncturists' were supportive of the pre-established protocol. The acupuncturists overall did not have concerns with a sham intervention arm because the sham recipients did not know their treatment arm and felt as satisfied with study participation as the true acupuncture recipients.Despite initial misgivings about both a standardized protocol and a sham arm, all practitioners discovered positive aspects of being a study acupuncturist. The analysis highlights the need for communication before, during and after a clinical trial between the study investigators and the intervention practitioners. As stake holders in the perception of CAM therapies with the public and with conventional medicine practitioners, it would benefit future research on CAM to similarly assess experiences of being a CAM study practitioner in order to enhance provider recruitment and reduce provider drop-out.