Objectives: As growing numbers of patients use complementary and alternative medicine (CAM), improvement is needed in communication between providers of CAM and allopathic medicine. This study describes collaborative acupuncture clinics (CACs) run by providers from Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) and the Oregon College of Oriental Medicine (OCOM) in the setting of family medicine teaching clinics. It examines patient demographics, quality of education for medical learners, referral practices of primary care physicians (PCPs), and quality of communication between acupuncturists and PCPs at these clinics. Design: Demographic data were abstracted from electronic medical records of patients treated at least three times in the CACs between 2006 and 2007. A survey on quality of education at the CACs was given to acupuncture interns, medical students, and acupuncture supervisors. A separate survey collected information from PCPs at the family medicine clinics regarding referral practices to acupuncture and quality of communication between PCPs and acupuncturists. Results: Of the 96 patients seen at the clinics, 74% were female, 76% were European-American, and the mean age was 45.9 years. Sixty-one percent (61%) of patients were insured through private insurance, 31.3% had Medicare or Medicaid, and 7.3% did not have insurance. Most of the 51 acupuncture providers who responded were satisfied with the quality of education at the CACs. Eighty percent of responding PCPs had referred at least one patient to the CACs. The majority of referrals was for a pain condition. Most PCPs would find a summary of the acupuncture visit helpful. Referral practices to different modalities were most influenced by patient interest and physician's belief in whether or not the modality would help. Conclusions: Demographics of patients at the CACs were comparable to those of patients seen in other acupuncture clinics. The collaborative structure of the CACs allowed for a unique learning experience and improved communication between providers of CAM and conventional medicine.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Complementary and alternative medicine