Background: Acupuncture is an effective and low-risk therapy for a wide spectrum of medical conditions. In the hospice setting, where comfort is the top priority, acupuncture could play a vital role in reducing symptom burden at the end of life. Objective: This state-wide survey study explored perceived barriers to acupuncture use in the hospice setting from acupuncturist and hospice staff perspectives. Specific barriers addressed included insurance coverage/funding for acupuncture, lack of knowledge of acupuncture as a therapeutic modality, and perceived insufficient evidence base for acupuncture. Materials and Methods: Acupuncturists and hospice staff in Oregon were recruited by e-mail and/or telephone to complete their survey. Results: Among acupuncturists, a response rate of 50% was obtained. The response rate of hospice staff could not be obtained. There were a total of 270 providers and hospice staff (102 acupuncturists, 16 hospice doctors, 14 hospice directors, 93 hospice nurses, 30 hospice social workers, and 15 hospice chaplains). The majority of acupuncturists (76% and 89%, respectively) and hospice staff (59% and 82%, respectively) strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that insurance coverage/funding for acupuncture and lack of knowledge of acupuncture as a therapeutic modality are important barriers. With respect to the perceived evidence base for acupuncture, the majority of acupuncturists (91%) and hospice staff (69%) strongly agreed or somewhat agreed that acupuncture can help provide a higher quality of life for hospice patients, although knowledge of specific conditions amenable to acupuncture among acupuncturists and hospice staff varied. Conclusions: From the acupuncturist and hospice staff perspectives, insurance coverage/funding for acupuncture, lack of knowledge of acupuncture as a therapeutic modality, and perceived insufficient evidence base for acupuncture are primary barriers to the use of acupuncture in hospice care. Increased awareness/education about acupuncture in the hospice setting, as well as improved funding structures, is critical.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Complementary and alternative medicine