Research: KEMPER and colleagues, De

Listed in Issue 55


KEMPER and colleagues, Department of Pediatrics, Harvard Medical School, and the Center for Holistic Pediatric Education and Research, Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts 02115 USA. set out to describe paediatric pain patients' experience with acupuncture treatment for chronic pain.


Despite its increasing use as a complementary therapy to treat pain, acupuncture is rarely considered by paediatricians, partly due to perceptions that it will not be acceptable to paediatric patients.


The authors conducted a retrospective case series. Subjects were paediatric pain patients referred by the Pain Treatment Service at Children's Hospital in Boston, who went to a paediatric acupuncturist. A research assistant not involved in the patient's care conducted the survey by telephone. Data were analyzed qualitatively and descriptively.


Of 50 eligible patients, 47 families were reached by telephone; all agreed to be interviewed. Patients had a median age of 16 years at the time of referral; 79% were female and 96% were white. The three most common diagnoses were migraine headache (n = 7), endometriosis (n = 6) and reflex sympathetic dystrophy (n = 5). The patients had a median of 8 treatments within 3 months; 85% of families paid out-of-pocket. Acupuncture therapies included needle insertion (98%), heat/moxa (85%), magnets (26%) and cupping (26%). Most patients and parents rated the therapy as pleasant (67% children/60% parents) and most (70% children/59% parents) felt the treatment had helped their symptoms. Only one said that the treatment had made the symptoms worse.


Paediatric patients with chronic, severe pain found acupuncture treatment pleasant and helpful. Additional, prospective studies are needed to quantify the costs and effectiveness of acupuncture treatment for paediatric pain.


Kemper KJ et al. On pins and needles? Pediatric pain patients' experience with acupuncture. Pediatrics 105(4 Pt 2): 941-7. Apr 2000.


The above studies demonstrate the variety of acupuncture clinical research being conducted, particularly with regard to chronic pain, depression and anxiety.

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