Advertisement

The Challenges of Nonpharmacological Trials: Blinding and Other Issues Using Acupuncture Research as an Example

  • 3 Citations

Abstract

Objective

To discuss some of the methodological challenges of nonpharmacological trials using acupuncture as an example.

Summary

Challenges in nonpharmacological trials are plenty. In acupuncture trials, choosing the most credible blinding technique and selecting the appropriate treatment parameters are some of the many difficulties facing clinicians. There is no consensus about the most appropriate type of sham acupuncture. The parameters to be considered in the sham group are the location of the points (wrong points, same spinal segment as the actual points of interest, outside the spinal segment of the actual points of interest), depth of needle insertion (no insertion, superficial insertion, or regular insertion), amount of stimulation to the needles (no stimulation, minimal stimulation, or regular stimulation), or a combination of these parameters. In a review, the average number of acupuncture treatments used was six. The average frequency of treatments per week was two. The duration of treatment was between 4 to 30 minutes with the mean at 20 minutes. About an equal number of studies used electrical or manual needle stimulation. Deep needle insertions were used in the studies that reported depth of insertion. The depth was either reported as deep or between 10 to 30 mm. On average, five needles were used during treatment sessions. “De qi” was elicited in only five of the studies. It appeared that most of these high-quality trials for musculoskeletal problems used combinations of segmental and nonsegmental point locations.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 189

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

References

  1. 1.

    Ezzo J, Berman B, Hadhazy VA, et al. Is acupuncture effective for the treatment of chronic pain? A systematic review. Pain. 2000;86:217–225.

  2. 2.

    Godfrey CM, Morgan PA: A controlled trial of the theory of acupuncture in musculoskeletal pain. J Rheumatol. 1978;5:124

  3. 3.

    Korpan MI, Dezu Y, Schneider TH, et al. Acupuncture in the treatment of posttraumatic pain syndrome. Acta Orthop Belg. 1999;65:197–201.

  4. 4.

    Molsberger A, Hille E. The analgesic effect of acupuncture in chronic tennis elbow pain. Br J Rheumatology. 1994;33:1162–1165.

  5. 5.

    Ballegaard S, Jensen G, Pedersen F, et al. Acupuncture in severe, stable angina pectoris: A randomized trial. Acta Med Scand. 1986;220:307–313.

  6. 6.

    David J, Townsend S, Sathanathan R, et al. The effect of acupuncture on patients with rheumatoid arthritis: A randomized, placebo-controlled cross-over study. Rheumatology. 1999;38:864–869.

  7. 7.

    Deluze C, Bosia L, Zirbs A, et al. Electroacupuncture in fibromyalgia: Results of a controlled trial. Br Med J. 1992;305:1249–1252.

  8. 8.

    Emery P, Lythgoe S. The effect of acupuncture on ankylosing spondylitis (letter). Br J Rheumatology. 1986;25:132–133.

  9. 9.

    Trinh KV. The efficacy of acupuncture in acute nonspecific low back pain and sciatica: a randomized controlled trial in primary care. Master Thesis Dissertation. McMaster University; 2000.

  10. 10.

    White AR, Eddleston C, Hardie R, et al. A pilot study of acupuncture for tension headache, using a novel placebo. Acupuncture Med. 1996;14:11–15.

  11. 11.

    Lao L, Bergman S, Hamilton GR, Langenberg P, Berman B. Evaluation of acupuncture for pain control after oral surgery. Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 1999;125:567–572.

  12. 12.

    Streitberger K, Kleinhenz J. Introducing a placebo needle into acupuncture research. The Lancet. 1998;352:364–365.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Kien Vinh Trinh MD, MSc.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Trinh, K.V. The Challenges of Nonpharmacological Trials: Blinding and Other Issues Using Acupuncture Research as an Example. Ther Innov Regul Sci 36, 509–511 (2002) doi:10.1177/009286150203600305

Download citation

Key Words

  • Acupuncture
  • Blinding
  • Treatment parameters
  • Pain
  • Systematic review