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Open AccessOpinion
Medicines 2016, 3(3), 21; doi:10.3390/medicines3030021

Why We Need Minimum Basic Requirements in Science for Acupuncture Education

Department of Clinical Sciences, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO 80526, USA
Academic Editors: Gerhard Litscher and William Chi-shing Cho
Received: 21 June 2016 / Revised: 26 July 2016 / Accepted: 1 August 2016 / Published: 5 August 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Acupuncture – Basic Research and Clinical Application)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [238 KB, uploaded 19 August 2016]   |  

Abstract

As enthusiasm for alternatives to pharmaceuticals and surgery grows, healthcare consumers are turning increasingly to physical medicine modalities such as acupuncture. However, they may encounter obstacles in accessing acupuncture due to several reasons, such as the inability to locate a suitable practitioner, insufficient reimbursement for treatment, or difficulty gaining a referral due to perceived lack of evidence or scientific rigor by specialists. Claims made about a range of treatment paradigms outstrip evidence and students in acupuncture courses are thus led to believe that the approaches they learn are effective and clinically meaningful. Critical inquiry and critical analysis of techniques taught are often omitted, leading to unquestioning acceptance, adoption, and implementation into practice of approaches that may or may not be rational and effective. Acupuncture education for both licensed physicians (DOs and MDs) and non-physicians needs to include science (i.e., explanation of its effects based on contemporary explanations of biological processes), evidence, and critical thinking. Erroneous notions concerning its mechanisms such as moving “stuck Qi (Chi)” or “energy” with needles and that this energy stagnates at specific, tiny locations on the body called acupuncture points lead to mistakes in methodologic design. For example, researchers may select sham and verum point locations that overlap considerably in their neural connections, leading to nonsignificant differences between the two interventions. Furthermore, attributing the effects of acupuncture to metaphorical and arcane views of physiology limits both acceptance and validation of acupuncture in both research and clinical settings. Finally, the content and quality of education and clinical exposure across acupuncture programs varies widely, with currently no minimum basic educational requirements in a scientific methodology. Considering the pressures mounting on clinicians to practice in an evidence-based and scientific manner that also demonstrates cost-effectiveness, acupuncture schools and continuing medical education (CME) courses need to provide their students a strong foundation in rational approaches supported by research. View Full-Text
Keywords: acupuncture; education; evidence-based acupuncture; education; evidence-based
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Robinson, N.G. Why We Need Minimum Basic Requirements in Science for Acupuncture Education. Medicines 2016, 3, 21.

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