Public Status and Prevalence of Acupuncture in Japan
Acupuncture originated in China and is widespread throughout Asia. It is expected that a higher utilization of this remedy exists in these countries compared to Western countries. We conducted annual nationwide surveys from 2003 through 2006 on the utilization of acupuncture in Japan. Face-to-face interviews were conducted with 2000 individuals randomly chosen from the resident database. Annual utilization percentages, based on the number of respondents, from 2003 to 2006 were 6.5%, 4.8%, 6.4%, and 6.7%, respectively, while lifetime experiences determined in each surveys were estimated as 26.7, 19.4, 24.4 and 25.4, respectively. Respondents who had utilized acupuncture and/or moxibustion tended to be older than those who had no experience. Acupuncture was mainly used for musculoskeletal symptoms, and a detailed breakdown of the musculoskeletal symptoms identified in the 2005 survey showed 50.9% for low back pain, 35.9% for shoulder stiffness and 12.0% for knee pain. Reasons given for continuing therapy included the effective amelioration of symptoms, comfort of the procedure and low number of side-effects, while those who decided against continuing cited no improvement of symptoms, cost and lack of time for treatment. In conclusion, annual utilization of acupuncture and/or moxibustion was estimated at more than 6%, and the percentage of those with a lifetime experience was ∼25%, thus demonstrating the relatively higher utilization of the remedy in Japan over utilization in western countries. Application of the treatment for musculoskeletal problems and utilization by the older population were specific standouts of the use of acupuncture and/or moxibustion in Japan.