Purpose. To evaluate the acceptance and effectiveness of acupuncture in a hospital setting. Methods. This 18-month pragmatic randomized controlled trial used a two-tiered consent process for all patients admitted to the acute care unit by study physician groups. The primary study comparison was between those randomized (using biased-coin randomization after initial consent) to be offered acupuncture or not. The primary outcome was length of stay (LOS). Other measures include costs, self-reported anxiety, depression, health status, and patient satisfaction. Results. Of the 383 patients consented to the study, 253 were randomized to be offered acupuncture, and 130 were not offered acupuncture. Of those offered acupuncture, 173 (69) accepted and received daily acupuncture. On average, patients offered acupuncture had longer LOSs (4.9 versus 4.1 days) than those not offered acupuncture (P =.047). Adjustment for diagnosis and severity mix reduced this difference and its significance (P =.108). No other significant differences in outcomes were found. Patients who were more anxious (P =.000) or depressed (P =.017) at admission tended to more often accept acupuncture when offered. Conclusion. Acupuncture is accepted by a majority of hospitalized acute care patients. However, it did not reduce LOS in this already short-stay population.
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