Research: Beal and Nield-Anderso

Listed in Issue 61


Beal and Nield-Anderson, Yale University School of Nursing, New Haven, CT, USA investigated acupuncture for symptom relief in HIV-positive adults .


Although acupuncture is used by many people with HIV disease as a complementary treatment to Western medicine, there is a lack of scientifically sound research on patient responses and outcomes. This study explored the feasibility of conducting a larger trial investigating the efficacy of acupuncture on symptom distress, psychological distress, and quality of life in HIV-infected individuals.


This pilot study used a block randomization, single-blinded design. There were 11 HIV-positive participants . Patients were grouped by CD4 cell counts and received acupuncture treatments twice each week for 3 weeks . The experimental group received a protocol with two components: one tailored to the individual's symptoms and a second standardized component treatment designed to promote health and immune function. The control-needling group received a standardized treatment involving stimulation of acupuncture points identified as 'clinically irrelevant' in treating the conditions under investigation (i.e. acupuncture points that have consistently not been cited as helpful for symptoms of relevant conditions or immune disorders). The HIV-Symptom List was administered to gather data on symptom distress, the Brief Symptom Inventory was used to gather data on psychological distress, and the Functional Assessment of HIV Infection was administered to collect data on quality of life.


Preliminary data from small numbers of participants showed trends toward improvement in symptoms and quality of life .


A follow-up pilot study will focus on the use of acupuncture to relieve gastrointestinal symptoms in people with HIV.


Beal MW and Nield-Anderson L. Acupuncture for symptom relief in HIV-positive adults: lessons learned from a pilot study. Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine 6 (5): 30-1. Sep 2000.

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