Physician Perspectives on Acupuncture Use in the Pediatric Emergency Department.

Document Type


Publication Date



DOI: 10.1097/PEC.0000000000002787


OBJECTIVES: Acupuncture is a nonpharmalogical treatment modality that is used to treat pain. Prior research demonstrates that pediatric patients tolerate acupuncture well and patients may experience significant pain relief. The objectives of this study were to (1) explore the experiences of pediatric emergency department (ED) physicians as they used 2 acupuncture procedures, Battlefield Acupuncture and Four Gates procedures, and (2) describe factors impacting the feasibility of acupuncture implementation in the pediatric ED setting.

METHODS: This qualitative study used individual semistructured interviews with pediatric emergency medicine physicians who had completed basic acupuncture training recruited using purposive sampling. Interviews were individually coded and analyzed using thematic analysis.

RESULTS: Eight pediatric ED physicians participated in interviews. We identified multiple factors that promoted acupuncture use, multilevel barriers that impacted ED acupuncture implementation, offered multilevel solutions to overcome barriers to ED acupuncture implementation, and overall recommended continued use of ED acupuncture. Participants noted that education for patients, families, ED staff, and the general community may facilitate acupuncture implementation. To promote standardized and equitable access to acupuncture, participants recommended that all ED physicians in the division should be credentialed to provide acupuncture. In addition, participants recognized the benefits of an ED-specific electronic medical record documentation template and acupuncture toolbox including centralized acupuncture supplies, patient and family educational materials, and reference cards for physicians.

CONCLUSIONS: Participants overall had positive experiences with ED acupuncture. Although multilevel barriers to use of acupuncture were noted, these may be mitigated by several strategies suggested by participants. Future research is needed to further explore the potential impact of these strategies, as well as examine clinical outcomes of acupuncture implementation in the pediatric ED setting.

Journal Title

Pediatric emergency care





First Page


Last Page


Library Record