Feasibility and Acceptability of a Brief Acupuncture Intervention for Service Members with Perceived Stress
Dietrich, Mary S.
Ridner, Sheila H.
Introduction Given the role of perceived stress in disability and suicidality in the military, intervening early before service members become at risk for severe injuries, hospitalizations, and chronic disability could improve health outcomes. The purpose of this study was to explore the feasibility and acceptability of a standardized stress acupuncture (SSA) approach on perceived stress in U.S. military personnel. This study had the following aims: examine feasibility of recruitment for SSA and implementation of study procedures in preparation for a methodologically rigorous study; examine acceptability of SSA treatment in a sample of military personnel with perceived stress; and examine change in perceived stress and general health before and after SSA. Materials and Methods This was a single-arm, single-site study protocol which assessed the feasibility of SSA in 16 patients with perceived stress. Upon IRB approval and written informed consent, the participants received 4 weekly sessions of SSA which consisted of 6 acupuncture points. Results This study showed that recruitment and implementation of SSA is feasible in service members. Service members found SSA to be acceptable. Statistically significant increases were found on the energy/fatigue, well-being, and social functioning components of the Short Form Health Survey (SF 36) (reliable change: 50%, 56%, and 25% respectively, Cohen's d = 0.72-0.78, all p < 0.05). A statistically significant decrease in perceived stress based was found on the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) (reliable change 63%, Cohen's d = 1.03, p = 0.001). Conclusion These results suggest that SSA is a feasible and acceptable treatment for perceived stress in military personnel. Preliminary findings suggest that SSA may be useful in improving energy/fatigue, social functioning, and perceived stress of service members.