Cost-effectiveness of acupuncture in an employee population: A retrospective analysis

Bijan J Borah, James M Naessens, Amy E. Glasgow, Brent A Bauer, Tony Y. Chon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objectives To determine whether acupuncture is a cost-effective adjunct to usual care for Mayo Clinic employees and their dependents experiencing pain symptoms. Design Retrospective review of the medical and billing records of 466 employee-patients and their dependents who had received acupuncture as part of their care and 466 propensity score–matched control patients. Interventions Usual care in combination with acupuncture compared with usual care alone. Main outcome measures The primary outcome measure was the total costs of care for all medical care and pharmacy services incurred from 1 year before the index visit to 14 months after the index date. Secondary outcomes included the number of hospital visits, total inpatient days, emergency department visits, primary care or general medicine office visits, specialty office visits, and physical therapy services. Pain scores (patient-rated scores from 0 to 10) were extracted from the medical record, if available. Results Costs of care were similar between the 2 groups. No cost savings were noted for the acupuncture group. Conclusions Several limitations to the study may have precluded a finding of cost-effectiveness. Future studies should include prospective evaluation of costs and other outcomes in a comparison between acupuncture and usual care in a randomized control trial.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)14-19
Number of pages6
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
StatePublished - Apr 1 2017


  • Acupuncture
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Employee health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Advanced and Specialized Nursing


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