Auricular acupuncture (AA) is a promising alternative treatment for situational anxiety. The aim of this pilot investigation was to test the acceptability and feasibility of AA as a treatment for preoperative anxiety (PA) in preparation for a subsequent randomised controlled trial.
AA was offered for treatment of PA to female patients who were scheduled for ambulatory gynaecological surgery. In patients who agreed, indwelling fixed needles were applied bilaterally at the points MA-IC1, MA-TF1, MA-SC, MA-AH7 and MA-T the day before surgery. Patients who declined AA but agreed to be examined constituted the control group (no intervention). State anxiety (primary outcome) was measured using the State-Trait-Anxiety Inventory (STAI) before AA (time I), the evening before surgery (time II) and immediately before surgery (time III). Anxiety was measured with a 100 mm visual analogue scale (VAS-100); heart rate, blood pressure and serum cortisol were also quantified.
Data from 62 patients (32 with AA and 30 with no intervention) were analysed. Whereas preoperative anxiety was reduced after AA the evening before surgery (P<0.01), anxiety levels in the control group increased from the first to the last measurement (P<0.001). Secondary outcomes were comparable between the patients from both groups.
AA was acceptable and feasible as a treatment for preoperative anxiety. The results were used for the sample size calculation of a subsequent randomised controlled clinical trial.
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