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Acupuncture During Labor Can Reduce the Use of Meperidine: A Controlled Clinical Study

Nesheim, Britt-Ingjerd MD; Kinge, Ragnhild RN; Berg, Bertha RN; Alfredsson, Birgitta RN; Allgot, Eibjørg RN; Hove, Gry RN; Johnsen, Wenche RN; Jorsett, Ingunn RN; Skei, Sigrun RN; Solberg, Stani RN


Objective To evaluate the effectiveness of acupuncture as an analgesic during labor.

Design A randomized, unblinded, controlled study.

Setting A labor ward in a University Hospital.

Patients Parturients at term.

Interventions One group received acupuncture (N = 106); another did not (N = 92). A second control group (N = 92), drawn from the labor ward protocol, consisted of patients who met the eligibility criteria for the study and were matched to the “no acupuncture” group by parity, but who had not been offered the opportunity to take part. Outcome measure “effectiveness of acupuncture” was measured by the requirement for use of meperidine.

Results Meperidine was given to 11% of the acupuncture group, 37% of the no acupuncture group (P < 0.0001), and 29% of the control group. The use of other analgesics was also lower in the acupuncture group. Patient satisfaction was high: 89 of 103 patients asked said they would want acupuncture during another labor.

Conclusions Acupuncture during labor reduced the requirement for other painkillers and has high patient satisfaction in this randomized, unblinded, controlled study.

Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ulleval University Hospital, Oslo, Norway

Received March 3, 2001;

revised November 21, 2001; second revision June 19, 2002; accepted July 5, 2002.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Britt-Ingjerd Nesheim, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Ulleval University Hospital, Oslo, Norway. E-mail:

© 2003 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.