Community Acupuncture Sleep Intervention for Hispanic Immigrants: A Preliminary Study

2018 Focused Projects Award – Humanitarian

Tracy Rupp Hockmeyer, PhD
Ebbtide Wellness Studio LLC

Key Project Outcome

Studies have shown that the Hispanic/ Latino immigrant population is suffering from sleep problems related to emotional distress and stress. Accessible community-based interventions are needed for this community. Acupuncture, specifically the NADA auricular acupuncture protocol, has been widely used to reduce anxiety, depression and stress in a community environment. This study served as a preliminary examination of the use of auricular acupuncture in a community setting to assess improvements in sleep disturbance in Hispanic/ Latino immigrants through reducing emotional stress. Sixteen Hispanic/ Latino male (N=4) and female (N=12) volunteers with sleep problems participated in the study and received auriculo-acupuncture therapy [NADA or Sham (needles on ear points not having previously shown to be effective)] twice a week for 4 weeks for 8 treatments total. Measurement of sleep and emotional stress were taken at the beginning, mid-way and after the 8 treatments. Results of the study showed significant improvements in sleep and emotional distress and stress after 4 auriculo-acupuncture sessions. There was also some association between improvement in sleep and decreasing emotional distress.

These findings may have an important impact on health in the Hispanic and Latino immigrant community because they show that auricular acupuncture in a community setting may be used to improve sleep and emotional distress after 4 treatments. Auriculo-acupuncture therapy is a low-cost, easily implemented group treatment option for improving sleep and emotional distress in this community with relatively quick results (4 treatments). Implementation of this treatment in communities could directly benefit sleep and emotional health in Latino/ Hispanic immigrants. Study results will be used to support outreach efforts to promote auricular acupuncture for sleep and emotional distress in the Hispanic and Latino community.