Acupuncturists Without Borders -  Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort
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Elizabeth Sommers has written an excellent summary of AWB’s data collection project from Louisiana. Data compilation is still taking place, but this is results analysis of the process so far. Her write up follows.

Acupuncturists Without Borders
Summary of Treatments Administered 10/05 through 2/06

Following Hurricane Katrina in September, 2005, Acupuncturists Without Borders (AWB) responded by sending volunteers from around the country to New Orleans and other affected areas. Thousands of treatments were administered to help survivors deal with the stress of this natural disaster.
Information on demographic characteristics of individuals receiving acupuncture treatment was collected, as well as evaluations of the services provided. The following sections summarize the information that was gathered.

Description of individuals receiving acupuncture
In order to determine who was using the services of AWB, questionnaires asking for basic descriptive information were distributed. Over 2000 individuals responded to the questionnaire; the results of 2178 respondents will be summarized here. Slightly over half (52%) of this group was female. The average age of the respondents was 63 years old, with males being slightly older than females (64.8 years versus 61.3 years, respectively). Respondents provided information on their ethnic and racial backgrounds; most of the group was non-Hispanic (90%). Slightly over half this group reported being white (58%). 22% reported being African-American, while 12% of the respondents were Asian. A small percentage (3%) were of mixed race, while Native Americans comprised 1% of those responding to the questionnaire. A total of 5% were from other categories.
This was the first time acupuncture treatment was received by 68% of the respondents. Many reported being employed the previous week (55%) and 38% were rescue workers.

Treatment evaluation
Approximately 1670 individuals responded to an AWB survey related to their assessment of the treatment they had received. Of this group, approximately two-thirds were responders (n=705), emergency medical personnel. 22% (502 individuals) described themselves as evacuees. Over 1100 of the people in this group had never experienced acupuncture in the past.
Satisfaction with treatment was quite high overall, with 30% (n=482) individuals responding to a question about the effectiveness of treatment on reducing their level of stress. Over one-third of the group reported that treatment had been “very effective”, and 380 individuals reported that treatment had been “extremely effective”. Almost everyone questioned responded that they would use acupuncture (n=1622) as well as recommend it to others (n=1628).
These levels of treatment satisfaction are exceptionally high and indicate a tremendous amount of favorable response to acupuncture. Many factors may influence this response, including:
• good relationships with acupuncture providers
• perceived effectiveness of treatment
• care provided in the context of familiar community centers and churches that are trusted and respected.

AWB has clearly developed and assembled the elements of a successful model of care. Since this data was compiled, the organization has returned to areas affected by the hurricanes, and will be working with other survivors of climatic disasters and other traumas.

Elizabeth Sommers, MPH, Lic.Ac.
Research Director
Pathways to Wellness/ AIDS Care Project

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