Introduction: Acupuncture is now emerging as a complementary medicine used in conjunction with in vitro fertilisation (IVF). The aim of this study was to examine participation in a randomised controlled trial of acupuncture as an adjunct to IVF from the perspective of women and study acupuncturists. Methods: Descriptive qualitative study using a survey and semi-structured in-depth interviews with study the women receiving acupuncture as part of the trial and acupuncturists. Results: Data was obtained from a convenience sample of 146 women and 17 acupuncturists. A number of themes emerged in relation to important features of the trial consultation and treatment sessions and why features were important to both women and acupuncturists. Features most valued by women were the physical and psychological benefits of acupuncture experienced during treatment encounters, information sharing and health advice, pain free treatment and the opportunity to participate in research. Acupuncturists assigned importance to providing a high standard of care through professional treatment and diagnosis, supporting and empowering women, developing positive therapeutic relationships and considering women's perceptions of acupuncture, IVF and research. Conclusions: Trial participants' and acupuncturists perceptions of trial participation were mostly positive, with the identified needs of women being complementarily matched by practitioners. Therapeutic relationships formed during trial participation seemed to transcend the artificial research setting and were reciprocal and receptive.
- Qualitative research