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Med J Aust. 1998 Aug; 169(4): 197-200.

Acupuncture in Australian general practice: practitioner characteristics.

Easthope G, Beilby JJ, Gill GF, Tranter BK.

Department of Sociology and Social Work, University of Tasmania, Hobart. [email protected]

OBJECTIVES: To ascertain the extent of the use of acupuncture and the characteristics of general practitioners using acupuncture. DESIGN: Secondary analysis of 1996 Health Insurance Commission data on claims by all non-specialist medical practitioners for Medicare Benefits Schedule items for an attendance where acupuncture was performed by a medical practitioner. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Use of acupuncture by general practitioners and the practitioners' sex, age, place of primary medical qualification, and the socioeconomic disadvantage index of the practitioners' practice. RESULTS: 15.1% of general practitioners claimed for acupuncture. Acupuncture was more likely to be provided by male practitioners, by those aged 35-54 years, and by practitioners who have an overseas primary medical qualification. The socioeconomic index of the practice did not significantly affect the number of claims for acupuncture. CONCLUSION: Acupuncture is used by about one in seven general practitioners. Its use is associated with middle-aged practitioners, who presumably have more clinical experience. This level of use by experienced doctors suggests that a critical review of the appropriate role of acupuncture in general practice should be considered.


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