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Journal of Chinese Integrative Medicine: 2011; 9(5): 503-514
DOI: 10.3736/jcim20110507
A case study exploration of the value of acupuncture as an adjunct treatment for patients diagnosed with schizophrenia: results and future study design
1. Patricia Ronan (Health Wellbeing and the Family, Beckett House, Canterbury Christ Church University, Canterbury, Kent, UK E-mail: patricia.ronan@canterbury.ac.uk)
2. Nicola Robinson (Allied Health Sciences Department, Faculty of Health and Social Care, London South Bank University, London, UK )
3. Dominic Harbinson (Canterbury Complementary Health Clinic, Canterbury, Kent, UK )
4. Douglas MacInnes (Centre for Health and Social Care Research, Canterbury Christ Church University, Chatham Maritime, Kent, UK )

Objective: This study explored the effects of individualized acupuncture when used alongside routine care for patients diagnosed with schizophrenia in order to assess the possibility and nature of potential benefits for this patient group. This study used an exploratory case study approach that included both quantitative and qualitative research tools, in order to generate a hypothesis questioning the possible benefits of acupuncture and develop future study designs.
Methods: Eleven patients diagnosed with schizophrenia were given multiple validated quantitative and qualitative assessments before, during and after a 10-week acupuncture intervention. A range of qualitative and quantitative assessments were employed including review of acupuncture, general practitioner and mental health clinical case notes. Qualitative data were interrogated to explore the reliability of participants’ reports to researchers, their clinicians and their carers while acting as informants in the study.
Results: Eight out of eleven participants completed a course of acupuncture treatment and all eleven reported positive benefits as a result of acupuncture, including improvements in the symptoms of schizophrenia, side effects of medication, energy, motivation, sleep, addictions and other associated physical problems. However, participants’ reports to the researcher and the acupuncturists varied at times and were often inconsistent between treatments, with participants revealing more information to the team towards the end of the study.
Conclusion: The study indicates that patients diagnosed with schizophrenia would benefit from acupuncture treatment alongside conventional treatment. Triangulation of the data highlights some inconsistencies in reporting from participants, but also that this can be overcome through the use of mixed research methods. Comparison of data also shows that future studies would benefit from using a Positive and Negative Syndrome Scale, the Standards for Reporting Interventions in Controlled Trials of Acupuncture and an enhanced questionnaire regarding side effects of medication, exercise, sleep and daily routine. It is also worth noting that future studies of this nature must maintain consideration for the vulnerability of participants as they recover and make support easily accessible.

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Ronan P, Robinson N, Harbinson D, MacInnes D. A case study exploration of the value of acupuncture as an adjunct treatment for patients diagnosed with schizophrenia: results and future study design. J Chin Integr Med / Zhong Xi Yi Jie He Xue Bao. 2011; 9(5): 503-514.
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