A study out of the University of Texas to be published in September’s Arthritis Care & Research claims that an acupuncturist’s communication style may influence a patients’ level of pain reduction and satisfaction with a treatment.
Patients with radiologically diagnosed knee osteoarthritis visited acupuncturists for three months. One group visited practitioners were trained to communicate “high” or “neutral” expectations saying things like “I think this will work for you,” and “I’ve had a lot of success with treating knee pain.” Another group was asked to be more neutral, saying things like “It may or may not work for you,” and “It really depends on the patient.” Those who saw more optimistic sounding acupuncturists reported a 50% decrease in pain.
“Placebo effects can be enhanced by expectations of improvement and it is conceivable that patient-provider interactions result in increased benefits if the provider has a confident attitude,” the authors note.
This study also asserts that there was no greater benefit reported when comparing traditional Chinese acupuncture (TCA) with “sham” acupuncture (performed in non-meridian points, with shallow needles and minimal stimulation).
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