I have previously written about the role of expectation and suggestion in the use of Medical Acupuncture (MA) and how this may positively influence local pain relief.
This is a subject I have always been interested in. In clinical practice such non specific effects no doubt play a very significant role in treatment outcomes, no matter what technique you are using.
As such when I came across a study by Sherman KJ, et al (2010) considering expectations and preferences as predictors of MA outcomes in low back pain, I was quick to take a read.
The study involved 638 low back pain sufferers who had never had MA as a treatment in other words ‘Acupuncture naive’. They underwent a 7 week course of treatment using MA, and the findings were as follows:
- Those with high pre-treatment expectations of MA showed greater expectations of improvement in general and showed greater preference for MA
- Those with high pre-treatment expectations were more likely to have heard that MA was a very effective treatment and to have a moderately positive impression of MA
- However, those with such favourable beliefs towards MA did not predict improvement in back related function or pain at the end of the 7 weeks of treatment, nor after 1 year follow up
- After the participants had received one session of MA, revised expectations were associated with an improvement in pain but not function at the end of the treatment period
- After the participants had received 5 sessions, revised expectations were predictive of improvements in pain and function at 8 and 52 weeks