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Portrait of the AOM Profession Via 6 Years of Acupuncture Today Polls PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Weeks   

Portrait of the AOM Profession Via 6 Years of Acupuncture Today Polls

Summary: Since 2000, Acupuncture Today has presented its readers with a monthly poll on topical issues: priorities for the profession, practice style, educational influences and the always controversial - whether MDs, DCs and NDs should be able to practice acupuncture. While there are no controls on the site regarding who can register an opinion, and participation rates very significantly from question to question, the impressionistic picture, if dangerously un-controlled, has its intriguing elements.
Send your comments to
for inclusion in a future Your Comments article.

Acupuncture Today is one of the seven complementary and alternative medicine publications produced by the MPA Media publishing group which grew out of the success of Dynamic Chiropractic. Acupuncture Today was launched in January of 2000.

Since a first poll in June 2000 ("Do you feel qualified to practice as a primary care provider?"), the publication has asked its readers to respond to roughly 70 separate questions. Peter Crownfield, the publication's executive editor told the Integrator that no one in particular is responsible for the poll: 'We take a look at trends and questions that are interesting." The number of respondents varies significantly. The portrait that emerges through the
poll archives at Acupuncture Today, albeit fuzzy, is an enjoyable surf.

Should other disciplines "be allowed to" practice acupuncture?

    Discipline
Yes
No
#
votes
Date
     MD
 48.7% 51.3%
677  May
2001
     DC 57.1%
42.9%  3171  June
2001
     ND 30.3%  69.7%  439  Sept
2005
First, a check in on a hot-button question. It's a useful starting place as it raises questions about who was voting. The question: Who should be "allowed" to practice acupuncture? 

In separate polls, a majority of respondents favored the practice for chiropractors, were close to split on medical doctors, and opposed for naturopathic physicians.

The question that rises is whether some of the nation's 60,000 chiropractors slid across from the Dynamic Chiropractic site to Acupuncture Today to be registered among the 3171 respondents, nearly 5 times the number who voted in the poll on MDs a month earlier. Let the reader beware!  Meantime, the responses re MDs and NDs are perhaps closer to a portrait of the profession's views. (MPA Media's ND publication did not begin publication until 2006.)
________________________

Some Yes and No Poll Responses
at Acupuncture Today

Question Yes 
No  #
votes
Date 
Given the opportunity, would you
like practice rights at your local hospital

45.7%  54.3%  626  Nov
2001
Do you consider tui na to be a part of
the practice of acupuncture?


47.9%
52.1%
853
Aug
2001

If you had to do it all over again, would
you still become an acupuncturist/DOM?

60.4%  39.6%  437  April
2002
Have you ever referred a patient to an
MD or a DC for treatment?

78.7%  21.3%  286  Sept
2002
Has an MD or DC ever referred a patient
to you for treatment?

73%  27%  233  Oct
2002
Do you think the AOM profession needs
to have a doctoral degree program?

44.8%  54.8%  8961  Dec
2002
When inserting acupuncture needles, do
you use a guide tube?

 76.4% 23.6%  313
June
2005 
Do you support the Federal Acupuncture
Coverage Act of 2005?

 73.5% 26.5%  423  Nov
2005
 Professional Association Issues

       
Do you support the idea of having just
one national association?

47.5%
52.5%
1790
Dec
2001
Do you think your state association does
a good job of representing AOM?

34.2%
65.8%
281
Mar
2004
Do you think the national associations do
a good job of representing AOM?

76.3%
23.7%
376
April
2004
Do you support the efforts of the Vision
Search Task Force in trying to unite
the profession?

90.4%
4.0%
324
June
2004

Source: Acupuncture Today, poll archives.
________________________

National Priorities for the Profession - and Collaboration

From 2003 to 2006, the Acupuncture Today January poll asked; "What is the most important issue facing the acupuncture/Oriental medicine profession (this coming year)?" The options changed significantly each year, with little carry over, so no direct comparisons can be made.

  • 2003 had no clear winner, with research on effectiveness and educational standards each reflecting roughly a quarter of the views. (1196 total)
  • In 2004, "improved cooperation between national organizations" was selected by 62.6% with inclusion in managed care/insurance at 16.1%. (634 total)
  • In 2005, the 2004 numbers reversed, with managed care/insurance selected by 64.7% and cooperation at 21.1%. (693 total)
  • For 2006, the coverage issue remained paramount, with 31.7% noting the general managed care/insurance category and 32.4% the Federal Acupuncture Coverage Act.

.
Participants in the October 2006 poll gave acupuncture leaders a charge to collaborate. Of 274, 71% sent a message that it is important that their profession work "with other healthcare providers including chiropractors, massage therapists and naturopathic doctors." Only 6% said such collaboration was "not important."
   
Participants in the
October 2006 poll
gave acupuncture
leaders a charge
to collaborate.



Such collaboration was viewed as important for both proactive and reactive reasons, according to a September 2006 poll in which 190 participated:

  • 48% said the value would be in "the ability to provide the public with comprehensive alternative health care not limited to any single modality," and
  • 40.5% said this "unification of the complementary medicine professions" would help create "a united front against the AMA's attempts to limit non-medical scope of practice."

Questions about the Business of Acupuncture


A number of polls examine the business of acupuncture. These tend to have the fewest responses. Some findings:

  • Over half (51.3%) are in solo practice, with 24.2% in hospital/medical center (5.3%) or a multidisciplinary practice (18.9%). (228, February 2006)
     
    Referrals Grow
    Practices


    46.2% received
    at least 50% of
    their patients via
    MD or DC referrals

    (282, December 2004)

  • For two thirds (66%), less than 25% of patients come in routinely for preventive care rather than for reasons of an illness or health problem. (154, August 2006)
  • While 37% of practices had 5 or less patients/day, 7.3% saw 20 or more, 35.2% were in the 6-10 range, and another 19.8% reported 11-19 per day. (247, December 2005)
  • Children less than 10 represent less than 25% of patients in 92.5% of practices (93, March 2001)
  • Visit charges were $41-$80 in 60% of practices, and over $80 in 21.5% (191, January 2001)
  • Asked in June 2003 about the top "modality" they would add to their state's scope of practice, 32.9% selected herbal remedies, 23.5% manipulation/mobilization, 10% drug prescriptions, 9.4% performing physicals, 8.8% taking x-rays and 7.6% "other." (170, June 2003) A similar survey two years later had diagnostic tests as the priority of 31.5%, and "manipulation/tui na" down to 11.2%. (197, July 2005)
  • 73% of 158 said their practice was better in March 2003 than a year earlier.
  • 46.2% received at least 50% of their patients via MD or DC referrals (282, December 2004)

Opinions on the Importance of Research

When "published research that validates acupuncture's safety and effectiveness" was listed among the potential priorities in yearly polls, 24.2% of 1196 participants in 2003 and 14.5% of 413 in 2006 selected research as the profession's top priority.

Two other polls looked at research questions. In one of the very first, in August 2000, 86% of just 57 respondents said that they believe that "not enough" research was going on in acupuncture. In August of 2005, as noted, 55.1% disagreed with the assertion that "the randomized, controlled trial (is) an appropriate format for measuring the effectiveness of acupuncture."

Now, regarding the question at the top of this article: "Do you feel qualified to practice as a primary care provider?" The response of 136 readers, in June of 2000 was 69.1% Yes and 30.9% No. Be nice to see that one run again.

Send your comments to
for inclusion in a future Your Comments article.


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