Acupuncture is a complementary and alternative medical modality. A considerable body of acupuncture research has accumulated since 1998. Acupuncture has been integrated into palliative care settings in the United Kingdom but is yet to be widely offered in the United States. The literature was searched to identify clinical trials involving acupuncture, palliative care, hospice, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, bone marrow, and cancer.
Twenty-seven randomized controlled clinical trials of acupuncture were found that reported on conditions common to the hospice and palliative care setting, including dyspnea, nausea and vomiting, pain, and xerostomia, and 23 reported statistically significant results favoring acupuncture use for the conditions investigated. Acupuncture is safe and clinically cost-effective for management of common symptoms in palliative care and hospice patients.
Acupuncture has potential as adjunctive care in palliative and end-of-life care, and the evidence warrants its inclusion in reimbursed palliative and end-of-life care in the United States.