These authors working in a fertility clinic in the UK surveyed 200 patients who attended the clinic in August, 2009. They discovered that there was a clear demand for acupuncture and that acupuncture may be valuable to improve the general well-being of women during infertility investigations and treatments. They also felt that patient resilience may be increased by the use of acupuncture alongside their IVF treatment, such that patients would persevere with increased numbers of ART (assisted reproductive technologies) cycles, thereby increasing their ultimate chance of a successful pregnancy.
An assessment of the demand and importance of acupuncture to patients of a fertility clinic during investigations and treatment.
Julie Hinks & Catherine Coulson
North Bristol NHS Trust, Bristol, United Kingdom
Introduction. Despite a lack of studies clearly demonstrating clinical efficacy, complementary medicine is frequently used by couples undergoing infertility treatments (Coulson 2005). In Bristol, acupuncture has become very popular among patients undergoing infertility treatment; thus, this study sought to quantify this and examine the reasons why patients choose acupuncture.
Methods. Two hundred questionnaires were given to patients who attended the Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine (BCRM) for investigation or treatment of infertility in August, 2009. Patients were asked to complete the questionnaire while waiting to see their doctor or nurse and 194 responses were returned. The questionnaires asked if patients had or wished to have acupuncture or other complementary medicine, and to indicate on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best), the relative importance of acupuncture in comparison to values such as pregnancy rates and continuity of care.
Results. Out of 58 respondents who use complementary medicine, 43 used acupuncture; 40 of these respondents use acupuncture regularly and 17 of those lived outside of Bristol. A further 52 respondents had considered using acupuncture. In terms of very high importance (score of 10), 135 respondents felt pregnancy rates scored 10, 84 felt having the same doctor scored 10, 71 felt having the same nurse scored 10, 31 felt in-house acupuncture scored 10, and 21 scored 10 for other complementary medicine. Overall, 43 respondents felt acupuncture should be available at Bristol Centre for Reproductive Medicine, 34 respondents gave more importance to acupuncture than seeing the same doctor or nurse, and 32 deemed it equally important. In addition, 29 patients scored acupuncture as equally important to pregnancy rates and 5 scored acupuncture higher than pregnancy rates.
Discussion. Previous unpublished work at BCRM showed that 85% of the patients found the named nurse system important as a coping mechanism to support them by providing continuity of care through stressful treatment. The responses to the questionnaires indicate a clear demand for acupuncture and suggest that acupuncture may be valuable to improve the general wellbeing of women during infertility investigations and treatments. If acupuncture provides an effective coping mechanism, this could support patients to persevere with increased numbers of ART (Assisted Reproductive Technologies) cycles, thereby increasing their ultimate chance of a successful pregnancy.