Acupuncture with or without combined auricular acupuncture for insomnia: A randomised, waitlist-controlled trial

Ka Fai Chung*, Wing Fai Yeung, Branda Yee Man Yu, Feona Chung Yin Leung, Shi Ping Zhang, Zhang Jin Zhang, Roger Man Kin Ng, Gar Chung Yiu

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Background Few high-quality, large-scale, controlled trials comparing the effectiveness and safety of acupuncture, auricular acupuncture and combined acupuncture treatment for insomnia are available. Objective To carry out a randomised, assessor-blinded, waitlist-controlled trial to test the superiority of combination treatment. Methods After in-person and polysomnography screening, 224 subjects (mean age 53.4 years; 75.4% female) with DSM-5 insomnia disorder, who were free from major psychiatric disorders and with sleep-diary-derived sleep efficiency averaged over 1 week of <85%, were randomised to acupuncture alone, acupuncture plus auricular acupuncture (combination treatment), or a waitlist in a 3:3:1 ratio. Standardised acupuncture and combination treatment were provided three times weekly for 3 weeks. The primary outcome was sleep-diary-derived sleep efficiency. Secondary outcomes included wrist actigraphy and self-reported scales on insomnia, anxiety and depression, fatigue, sleepiness and functioning. Assessments were conducted at baseline, 1 week, 4 weeks and 13 weeks after treatment. Participants on the waitlist were re-randomised to receive acupuncture or combination treatment after the second post-baseline assessment. Results There was no significant difference between acupuncture and combination treatment in the primary outcome and most secondary outcomes at all time points. However, both treatments were better than waitlist in reducing insomnia, anxiety/depressive symptoms and fatigue, and improving function. Within-group improvements were maintained at 13 weeks after treatment. Of 260 adverse events, 243 were mild (93.5%). Discontinuation due to adverse events was 2.1% and 3.1% for acupuncture and combination treatment, respectively. Conclusions Limited by short-Term treatment and follow-up, the attempt to augment acupuncture by auricular acupuncture was not supported. Acupuncture and combination treatment were safe and had mild hypnotic effects, which lasted for at least 13 weeks. Trial registration number NCT01891097; Results.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-13
Number of pages12
JournalAcupuncture in Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine
  • Clinical Neurology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Auricular Acupuncture
  • Chinese
  • Electroacupuncture
  • Insomnia
  • Randomized controlled trial


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