Anxiety related to De Qi psychophysical responses as measured by MASS: A sub-study embedded in a multisite randomised clinical trial

Shohreh Razavy, Marcus Gadau, Shi Ping Zhang, Fu Chun Wang, Sergio Bangrazi, Christine Berle, Tie Li, Wei Hong Li, Christopher Zaslawski*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Acupuncture has been broadly applied in the management of many diseases and conditions; however, its mechanism of action has been partially elucidated. Additionally, assessment of psychophysical responses in the acupuncture therapy is not common regarding anxiety disorder studies. Taken together, the therapeutic effect of acupuncture appears when De Qi psychophysical response is experienced following stimulation of the afferent sensory nerves. The present study investigates the level of anxiety perceived at different occasions in acupuncture and mock laser group. Furthermore, it examines the relationship between perceived De Qi psychophysical response and the level of anxiety experienced during administration of each intervention. The study was embedded in a two-arm parallel design multi-center, randomized clinical trial, the Tennis Elbow Acupuncture-International Study-China, Hong Kong, Australia, Italy. Participants’ level of anxiety was measured using a validated instrument, the Massachusetts General Hospital Acupuncture Sensation Mood Scale. Ninety-six participants with Lateral Elbow Pain were randomly allocated into two groups; the acupuncture treatment group (n = 47) and the inactive mock laser control group (n = 49). Data were collected immediately following the interventions at the first and the ninth session within the clinical trial. Acupuncture with De Qi did not induce higher level of anxiety compared to prior administration of acupuncture. In fact, participants were more relaxed after receiving acupuncture than those who received mock laser. There was also a weak association between participants’ perception of anxiety during acupuncture and the MASS De Qi Index in session nine only (p < 0.01). Further investigation of the result revealed weak positive correlation between anxiety perceived during administration of acupuncture and the following De Qi characteristics; ‘soreness’ (p < 0.01), ‘Deep pressure’ (p < 0.05), ‘Heaviness’ (p < 0.05), and ‘Fullness/distension’ (p < 0.05). Acupuncture can be regarded as a potential therapy for preoperative anxiety through its possible regulatory function of emotion. While culture may not alter the expectation of the individual regarding anxiety, symptomology associated with anxiety should be understood within the context of the cultural background.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-35
Number of pages12
JournalComplementary Therapies in Medicine
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Complementary and Manual Therapy
  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Advanced and Specialised Nursing

User-Defined Keywords

  • Acupuncture
  • Anxiety
  • De Qi
  • Interoception
  • MASS
  • Psychophysical responses


Dive into the research topics of 'Anxiety related to De Qi psychophysical responses as measured by MASS: A sub-study embedded in a multisite randomised clinical trial'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this