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American investigators have found that most people who use acupuncture do not receive a full course of treatment. Using population-based survey data (n=34,271), they examined the characteristics of US adults who received a full course of acupuncture (more than six treatments), a short course (one to five treatments) or no acupuncture. Among acupuncture 558 users, 38% were considered to have completed a full course. Acupuncture use was generally low (1.5%), but higher among women and those with greater education and higher socioeconomic status. Those who accessed acupuncture through insurance benefits, and who had a greater level of education, were more likely to receive a full treatment course. Insurance benefits attenuated disparities in use by sex and ethnicity. The authors conclude that, considering evidence of effectiveness, low risk and relatively low cost of delivery, acupuncture could play a larger role in non-pharmaceutical treatment of common conditions such as pain. They further suggest that policymakers should consider that, without insurance benefits for acupuncture, people are less likely to complete a full treatment course, which may contribute to disparities in use and health outcomes.

Acupuncture 'dose' (number of treatments) and insurance benefits in the USA. Acupunct Med. 2018 Apr;36(2):88-95.

 

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