ACTCM Grad Presents First-Ever Veterinary Acupuncture Study at Annual NAR Conference

San Francisco, CA (September 9, 2009) – In May 2009, Ella Woods, L.Ac. Dipl.O.M, DAOM, presented “Prevalence of Use of Veterinary Acupuncture, a pilot study” at the Annual North American Research Conference on Complementary and Integrative Medicine (NARCCIM). This study is the first ever study specifically designed to explore the prevalent use of acupuncture for companion animals, and the demographics and the types of medical problems assisted by acupuncture. Prior to this study, the subject of acupuncture use in animals comprised only a subset of a question about use of “alternative medicine”, imbedded in a survey conducted in 2000 by the American Animal Hospital Association, with no further depth of exploration.

NARCCIM is an annual international conference that attracts a critical mass of cutting-edge, peer-reviewed science and discussion in the broad field of complementary and integrative medical research. Events are designed to foster the development of new collaborations and to strengthen existing partnerships. This year’s conference was sponsored by a number of organizations, including the National Institute of Complementary Medicine (NICM, an institute within the NIH), the Academic Consortium for Complementary and Alternative Health Care (ACCAHC), American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM), American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA), International Association of Medical Science Educators (IAMSE), International Society for Complementary Medicine Research (ISCMR), and others. Doctors and scientists from around the world attended the conference to further study the benefits of many different health care modalities and explore the effectiveness of integrating multiple modalities when treating patients.

Woods’ study was based on the use of alternative therapies for animals by specifically examining veterinary acupuncture. She conducted this pilot study by exploring who was using veterinary acupuncture for their animals and why. Anonymous surveys were completed by a sample of respondents who brought their animals to veterinary practices in the San Francisco Bay Area over a four-week period in summer 2008. One survey site was a large referral practice of veterinary specialists in San Francisco, and three sites were general veterinary practices located in the greater Bay area. Survey questions included demographics, presenting complaints, acupuncture usage, perceived efficacy, and acupuncture satisfaction for both the respondents and their animals.

The study found the following results: Respondents (n = 173) had a mean age of 44.7 with the majority being female, Caucasian, currently married or single with no partner, no children, and having a bachelors degree or higher. Annual reported income for the majority of respondents was $100,000 or less. The majority (53.5%) reported using acupuncture for themselves, while 32% reported using it in the treatment of their animals. Correlation analysis showed that participants who used acupuncture themselves were more likely to use it in the care of their animals. The more effective they rated their own acupuncture to be, the more effective they rated their animal’s veterinary acupuncture (r = .530; p < .01), and the more satisfied they were likely to be with their animal’s acupuncture treatment (r = .491; p < .01). A regression analysis was performed to assess seeking acupuncture for their animals. The analysis revealed a significant model [F (3, 166)= 10.920; p < .005] with 16.7% of the variance in animal acupuncture being accounted for by the predictor variables with the strongest predictor being if they fed their animal organic food (r = 0.321).

The poster presentation was well received. It generated considerable interest, particularly in attendees who were not aware that acupuncture was being integrated into the veterinary care of animals. Presentation at this conference brought two invitations to publish, which Ms. Woods and her advisor are considering.


About Ella Woods, L.Ac., Dipl.O.M., DAOM, MSTCM
Ella Woods, L.Ac., Dipl.O.M., DAOM, MSTCM, is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist practicing in Pacifica, CA. She is also a staff acupuncturist at San Francisco Veterinary Specialists. Prior to becoming an acupuncturist, Ms. Woods worked in the biotech industry conducting research and development for contracts and licenses. Ms. Woods has an MBA from San Francisco State University and both a masters and clinical doctorate degree in Chinese Medicine from the American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine. In addition to her work with veterinary acupuncture, Woods specializes in pain management, gastrointestinal disorders and integrative oncological therapy for her human patients.
About American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM)
American College of Traditional Chinese Medicine (ACTCM) has provided affordable, quality health care to the public and trained professionals in acupuncture, massage and Chinese medicine since 1980. In addition to its graduate curriculum, ACTCM offers continuing education, public education, community outreach and clinical services in acupuncture and herbal medicine. ACTCM has been the recipient of many awards for its curriculum, faculty and clinic, and has been voted “Best of the Bay” by both the San Francisco Weekly and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. ACTCM is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine and is a private, nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization.

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