Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Acupuncture for symptom management in a menopausal population: An exploration of mechanism and experience
by Wright, Cheryl LeAnn, Ph.D., The University of Arizona, 2009, 252; 3352634
Abstract (Summary)

This early phase study examined the effects of a series of ten standard-protocol acupuncture treatments over four weeks in 12 healthy, but symptomatic, menopausal women. In addition to measuring two biologic markers that may shed light on the physiologic impact of acupuncture, symptom experience data were collected. The two markers included heart rate variability to evaluate effects of acupuncture on the autonomic nervous system as it relates specifically to the heart, and interleukin 6, a proinflammatory cytokine, to capture physiologic impact of acupuncture on the immune-inflammatory response.

Women who exhibited significant menopausal symptoms, that included vasomotor symptoms (hot flashes and sweats), fatigue, mood disorders, sleep disturbances, urogenital symptoms, and pain as measured by a minimum score of 22 out of a possible 44 points on the Menopause Rating Scale (MRS), underwent 10 sessions of a standard acupuncture point protocol intervention over a four-week period. Daily symptoms were evaluated for 28 days using the MRS. Immediately after the intervention was complete, one final open-ended question was asked of each participant to explore subjective experiences not captured by the validated instrument. Physiologic measurements included a 30-minute continuous measure of electrocardiogram data before and during acupuncture, as well as pre and post acupuncture measures of serum interleukin 6 at the first and final acupuncture treatment. Each set of measures were taken at baseline, immediately before and after each acupuncture treatment throughout the four-week/10-treatment intervention. Heart rate variability was assessed using spectral analysis, and interleukin 6 changes were measured using enzyme linked immunoabsorbant assay. Analysis included linear regression, Wilcoxon Signed Ranks test and Spearman correlation coefficients.

After the acupuncture intervention, menopausal symptoms improved significantly. Various elements of heart rate variability did not show consistent or predictable intra or inter-subject changes, however several components of HRV, interleukin 6 and symptoms were found to have significant correlations with each other.

The study was deemed feasible. Menopause symptoms improved. Heart rate variability showed no consistent changes or trends. Interleukin 6 decreased in seven subjects, between the first and tenth acupuncture treatment, but did not reach statistical significance.

This small project suggests that heart rate variability, when measured at each acupuncture treatment, does not change in a consistent or predictable manner. Rather, acupuncture may provide a modulating influence that depends on the body’s functional state at each treatment.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Berg, Judith
Commitee: Goldsmith, Melissa, Koithan, Mary, Ritter, Leslie
School: The University of Arizona
Department: Nursing
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-B 70/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Nursing
Keywords: Acupuncture, Cytokines, Heart rate variability, Interleukin 6, Menopause, Symptom management
Publication Number: 3352634
ISBN: 978-1-109-10534-6
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