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An Observational Study on Acupuncture for Earthquake-related Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: The Experience of the Lombard Association of Medical Acupuncturists/Acupuncture in the World, in Amatrice, Central Italy

Citation (APA style): Moiraghi, C., Poli, P., & Piscitelli, A. (2019). An observational study on acupuncture for earthquake-related post-traumatic stress disorder: The experience of the Lombard Association of Medical Acupuncturists/Acupuncture in the World, in Amatrice, central Italy. Medical Acupuncture, 31(2), 116–122. doi:10.1089/acu.2018.1329

Abstract

Background and Objective: Earthquakes are associated with severe psychiatric disorders, such as anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Current first-line therapies for PTSD have well-known side-effects. Acupuncture is a complementary approach to help patients cope with mental problems after natural disasters and public health events. This article describes an acupuncture intervention conducted by the Lombard Association of Medical Acupuncturists/Acupuncture in the World in the earthquake-stricken area of Amatrice in Central Italy and measures the effect of acupuncture on earthquake-related pain and psychologic symptoms in the victims.

Methods: The intervention lasted five weeks, from September to October 2016. Adult patients with psychologic symptoms and musculoskeletal pain were included. Treatments were performed by experienced medical acupuncturists. A verbal/numerical scale was developed to quantify the effect of intervention. A Wilcoxon rank–sum test was used for comparison of the scores before and after the acupuncture treatment.

Results: Of the patients, 68.3% reported having both pain and psychologic symptoms. The most frequently used meridian points were Kidney (13.17%), followed by Large Intestine (12.46%), Spleen (12.04%) and Gall Bladder (10.34%). After three treatments performed in daily sessions, 54.05% and 60.6% of patients reported marked improvements in psychologic and pain symptoms, respectively. Statistical analysis showed a significant difference between the scores reported before the first treatment and after the third treatment, both for pain (p=0.000) and psychologic symptoms (p=0.000). No serious adverse events were reported.

Conclusions: These results suggest that acupuncture could be a useful tool for reducing pain and psychologic symptoms related to earthquakes, but further research is required in this specific area.

Keywords

acupuncture, earthquake, posttraumatic stress disorder, PTSD

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