Electroacupuncture for tapering off long-term benzodiazepine use: Study protocol of randomized controlled trial

Wing Fai Yeung, Ka Fai Chung*, Zhang Jin Zhang, Wai Chi Chan, Shi Ping ZHANG, Roger Man Kin Ng, Connie Lai Wah Chan, Lai Ming Ho, Yee Man Yu, Li Xing Lao

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Conventional approaches for benzodiazepine tapering have their limitations. Anecdotal studies have shown that acupuncture is a potential treatment for facilitating successful benzodiazepine tapering. As of today, there was no randomized controlled trial examining its efficacy and safety. The purpose of the study is to evaluate the efficacy of using electroacupuncture as an adjunct treatment to gradual tapering of benzodiazepine doses in complete benzodiazepine cessation in long-term benzodiazepine users. Methods/Design: The study protocol of a randomized, assessor- and subject-blinded, controlled trial is presented. One hundred and forty-four patients with histories of using benzodiazepines in ≥50% of days for more than 3 months will be randomly assigned in a 1:1 ratio to receive either electroacupuncture or placebo electroacupuncture combined with gradual benzodiazepine tapering schedule. Both experimental and placebo treatments will be delivered twice per week for 4 weeks. Major assessments will be conducted at baseline, week 6 and week 16 post-randomization. Primary outcome is the cessation rate of benzodiazepine use. Secondary outcomes include the percentage change in the doses of benzodiazepine usage and the severity of withdrawal symptoms experienced based on the Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Symptom Questionnaire, insomnia as measured by the Insomnia Severity Index, and anxiety and depressive symptoms as evaluated by the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale. Adverse events will also be measured at each study visit. Discussion: Results of this study will provide high quality evidence of the efficacy and safety of electroacupuncture as an adjunct treatment for benzodiazepine tapering in long-term users. Trial registration:ClinicalTrials.govNCT02475538.

Original languageEnglish
Article number183
JournalBMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Mar 2017

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Complementary and alternative medicine

User-Defined Keywords

  • Acupuncture
  • Benzodiazepine discontinuation
  • RCT
  • Sham
  • Withdrawal


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