Acupuncture practice in the UK: a national survey

A project to map acupuncture practitioners across the UK has provided more knowledge about the practitioners who provide acupuncture treatment, what conditions patients consult for, and the characteristics of the treatment provided.

In this project we conducted a cross-sectional survey of practitioners of acupuncture in order to characterise what conditions are being treated for and by whom, to examine some of the characteristics of treatment, and to explore trends over time. We collected data on the practitioners, including demographic details, association membership, statutorily regulation, practice setting, style of acupuncture, diagnostic methods, and needle response sought. Practitioners recorded details of 10 of their most recent patients, including demographic details, their primary reason for consulting and lifestyle advice provided.

Three hundred and thirty practitioners responded, 62% were female with a median age 48. The majority (68%) practiced in independent settings, and 42% in the NHS. Western style acupuncture is the most prevalent form of practice among statutorily regulated practitioners, whereas styles based on Traditional Chinese medicine are most widely used among independent acupuncturists. Patients predominantly consult for back pain, other common musculoskeletal conditions and headaches. Treatment for infertility by the independent acupuncturists was found to have increased five-fold in 10 years.

Health Services Policy Research in the Department of Health Sciences