Background The evidence for acupuncture in a range of palliative symptoms is growing. Palliative patients are increasingly interested in non-pharmacological therapies to symptoms (O’Regan & Filshie, 2010). Acupuncture offers relief from both physical and psychological symptoms often experienced in this patient group. Acupuncture was introduced to the hospice as a non-pharmacological option for both in-patients and outpatients in 2018.
Aims To monitor the effects of acupuncture on a range of palliative symptoms using visual analogue scales (VAS), patient satisfaction surveys and verbal feedback.
Methods Patients who may benefit from acupuncture for a variety of symptoms were identified by the multidisciplinary team. Acupuncture points were selected by an AACP trained physiotherapist following full assessment, health screen and written informed consent. Symptoms were monitored using VAS and feedback forms prior to each session of acupuncture with each patient.
Results 87% of patients who were identified by the MDT for acupuncture consented to trying this therapy in conjunction with other medical treatment. Positive results in reducing symptoms using VAS were shown in patients presenting with pain (mean VAS pre-treatment 8.7, mean VAS post-treatment 6.7) nausea (mean pre-treatment VAS 7.6, mean VAS, post-treatment 2.3) breathlessness (mean pre-treatment VAS 7.3, mean VAS, post-treatment 6.3) fatigue (mean pre-treatment VAS 8.6, mean VAS, post-treatment 6.3) and anxiety (mean pre-treatment VAS 7.6, mean VAS, post-treatment 3.6). Subjectively 70% of patients reported that acupuncture was a positive experience regardless of whether the primary symptom had improved. Patients reported feeling calmer and more relaxed during and after sessions.
Conclusion Acupuncture has proved to be a popular, safe and enjoyable adjunct to therapy intervention for patients with no adverse reactions or side effects of treatment. Early results have shown quantitative improvements in VAS as well as qualitative positive results for the use of acupuncture in patients’ emotional and psychological wellbeing.