Acupuncture Research: How to Get Involved

Acupuncture Research: How to Get Involved

            There is no question that acupuncture research needs more attention from the medical community, and we also need more acupuncturists conducting research!

Acupuncture can help with a multitude of health problems, but if the medical community and patients are to buy-in to the benefits of acupuncture, we need the research to back it up.

By getting involved in acupuncture research, you will continue to grow and evolve as a TCM professional, establish yourself as an expert, and contribute to the growth and expansion of acupuncture within the medical community.

In this article, we will take a look at the basics of getting involved in acupuncture research.

Acupuncture Research Funding

            While there are grants for places like nonprofit organizations, individuals wanting a grant have to approach research funding in a different way. There are several approaches that can be taken by an individual acupuncturist in order to get funding.

Getting individual funding:

  • Acupuncture Colleges & Universities – If you are a current student or graduate of an acupuncture college or university, contact your post-graduate department, as some schools have a specific department for sponsored programs which help researchers with finding grant opportunities. You can even request to talk to any acupuncture & TCM professors who are actively involved in acupuncture research.

  • Peer Resources – Don’t discount turning to like-minded peers for funding sources. Although national organizations will fund larger groups, these larger funding organizations may have local chapters that may run their funding. It is important to note that these national organizations may not know the ins and outs of the local chapter offerings.

  • Fiscal Sponsorship – there are some grant makers that support individual research. You can work with an existing public charity, and ask for tax-deductible donations and grants under the sponsor’s exempt status.

The take-away: Reach out to your college, professional organizations, and connect with your acupuncturist colleagues to find out what opportunities are available in acupuncture research. Use your resources and talk to those that may have connections or knowledge within the research field.

Writing a Grant Proposal for Acupuncture Research

            The foundations that give individuals grants for research, unlike non-profits, have highly specific criteria, so it can be difficult to find how to write a proper grant proposal without knowing someone who has done so before. There are a few key elements that need to be included in the proposal to ensure that the grant will be put toward good use for acupuncture research that is necessary to the medical community.

Acupuncture Research
Grant Proposal Elements

  • Cover Letter – This should be addressed to your contact person at whatever foundation you are choosing to get a grant from. This should only be 1 page.

  • Executive Summary – Also known as the abstract, this should be a synopsis of the study information that will follow, and should be about 250 words or less.

  • Statement of Need – This is where you will explain the issue your addressing with your research and why you need a grant for this particular area of study. This should only be 1 page.

  • Objective – This where you explain in greater detail what you plan to accomplish in response to the need above. This should only be 1 page.

  • Methods – This explains the details of the research you will be using to accomplish the objectives within a specific time frame. This should only be 1 page.

  • Evaluation – The Evaluation section will allow you to explain how you plan to evaluate your study. This should only be 1 page.

  • Future Funding – How you will sustain your research study? Foundations will want to know the answer to this question, but this will only apply if you plan on a study that runs indefinitely. This should only be 1 paragraph.

  • Budget – The budget for your acupuncture research study will include an itemized list of expenses showing how much will be needed, and how you plan to spend it to accomplish the objective. This should only be 1 page.

In addition to going through the motions of earning a grant for your acupuncture research project, it is vital to know what the bigger foundations are looking for as far as acupuncture research, so as not to waste your time.

High Priority Acupuncture Research Topics

            As of right now, according the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NIH), there are certain subjects that are of higher priority in acupuncture research than others. The NIH urges individuals and group researchers to submit proposals for studies in the areas of high programmatic priority as opposed to low.

High Programmatic Priority Acupuncture Research:

  • Health care and clinical policy questioning if acupuncture should be incorporated into pain management treatment plans.

  • Clinical or policy questions regarding the availability of acupuncture for pain management and reduction of prescription opioids.

  • Clinical research regarding the biological mechanisms of acupuncture analgesia, and the degree to which effects are due to needling or placebo.

  • The effects of electro-acupuncture for pain management using quantitative sensory testing (QST).

  • Electro-acupuncture protocols for pain and safety conditions.

  • Clinical research using acupuncture for understanding the role of placebo and whether it can be used to increase effectiveness of pain management.

Low Programmatic Priority Acupuncture Research:

  • Comparing clinical results of sham and traditional acupuncture.

  • Comparing individualized to standard acupuncture treatment protocol.

  • Moxibustion used to deliver acupuncture interventions.

Regardless of where you decide to submit a proposal for research, it is important to be sure the subject matter is something that foundations are looking for.

Acupuncture Research

            While we have only covered the basics here on getting approval for acupuncture research projects, your best bet is to speak to those who have done this before. Knowing someone already in the research field or learning from fellow acupuncturists will be a key ingredient in successfully starting an acupuncture research study, and getting the necessary funding to execute it.

If you want to learn more about research within the TCM field, be sure to visit some of these journal websites for possible research opportunities:

Journal of Acupuncture & Meridian Studies

Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine

The American Journal of Chinese Medicine

Sage Journal: Acupuncture in Medicine

Chinese Journal of Integrative Medicine

Institutional Review Boards & Research

We hope this article inspires you to leave your mark in the acupuncture world, and go do some research!

Keep Learning,