December 2012, Volume 35 Number 6 , p 403 - 414
The purpose of this study was to test the effectiveness of Korean hand acupuncture (KHA) on bowel symptoms, stress, mental health, and heart rate variability in women with irritable bowel syndrome. From a total sample of 42 women with irritable bowel syndrome diagnosed with Rome III, 21 were randomly selected to be given KHA, whereas 21 were given sham KHA. The KHA group received KHA on 16 spots related to bowel symptoms, whereas the sham KHA group received treatment to areas unrelated to bowel symptoms. KHA needles were applied for 25 minutes, twice a week, for 4 weeks. After the treatment, bowel symptoms were measured using a Bowel Symptom Severity Scale, stress using a global assessment of recent health, mental health using the Symptom Checklist-90–Revised, and heart rate variability. SAS 9.1 (SAS Institute, Cary, NC) was used to analyze the data, and a chi-square test, t test, and paired t test were used for analysis. The KHA group had a decrease in symptoms such as loose stool, bloating, abdominal discomfort, and abdominal pain compared with the sham KHA group (p < .05). However, there were no significant effects on stress, mental health, and heart rate variability. KHA was effective for bowel symptoms such as loose stool, bloating, abdominal discomfort, and abdominal pain, and it could be applied to patients with irritable bowel syndrome. There is a need for further research on the effectiveness of KHA in women with irritable bowel syndrome using more diverse physiological indexes.