Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Related Sciences

First Advisor

Chuck Biddle, PhD, CRNA


BACKGROUND: Randomized controlled trials show acupuncture and acupressure support anesthesia management by decreasing anxiety, opioid requirements and treating post-operative nausea and vomiting. Acupuncture and acupressure have demonstrated clinical usefulness and received governmental support (NIH, PPACA, WHO, U.S. Military), but have not yet diffused into mainstream anesthesia practice. This study examined US anesthesia providers' perceptions of acupuncture and acupressure.

METHODS: Ninety-six anesthesiology departments stratified by geographic region (Northeast, South, West, and Midwest) and institution type (university medical centers, community hospitals, children’s hospitals, and VA hospitals) were selected for participation in an anonymous, online survey. The target sample was 1,728 providers of which N = 292 (54% anesthesiologists, 44% CRNAs, 2% AAs) responded yielding an overall 17% response rate.

RESULTS: Spearman’s correlation coefficient revealed a statistically significant correlation between acupuncture and geographic region, with the West having the highest predisposition toward acupuncture use (rs = 0.159, p = 0.007). Females are more likely to use acupuncture than men (rs = -.188, p = 0.002). Age yielded a moderate effect size with providers between the ages of 31-50 years old experiencing the best outcomes administering acupuncture (rs = 0.65, 95% CI = 2.79, 3.06). A strong effect size exists between acupuncture and country of pre-anesthesia training (rs = 1.00, 95% CI = 1.08, 1.16). Some providers have used acupuncture (27%) and acupressure (18%) with positive outcomes, however the majority of providers have not used these modalities, but would consider using them (54%, SD = 1.44 acupuncture; 60%, SD = 1.32 acupressure). Seventy-six percent of respondents would like acupuncture education and 74% would like acupressure education (SD = 0.43, SD = 0.44, respectively). Lack of scientific evidence (79%, SD = 0.73) and unavailability of credentialed providers (71%, SD = 0.92) were the primary barriers.

CONCLUSIONS: While most U.S. anesthesia providers have not used these modalities, they still report a favorable perception of acupuncture/acupressure’s role as part of an anesthetic and the majority of providers express an interest in receiving education. This study adds to the body of acupuncture and acupressure research by providing insight into anesthesia providers’ perceptions of these alternative medicine modalities.


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