Improving the quality of randomized controlled trials (RCTS) in acupuncture

Zhaoxiang Bian, Chungwah Cheng, Linda Chan, Mandy Cheung, Min LI, Zhixiu Lin

Research output: Chapter in book/report/conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


In order to evaluate the clinical efficacy of acupuncture, the use of randomization controlled trial (RCT) for acupuncture is increasing rapidly recently, with different control groups. The objective of this paper are: (1) To systemically review the quality of reporting of RCTs with acupuncture; and (2) to discuss the design of sham acupuncture and its existing problem. Methodology: A search of the OVID and EMBASE database was conducted to identify the articles of RCTs with acupuncture for the low back pain. A revised CONSORT checklist and STRICTA checklist, containing 78 items with 23 items specifically for acupuncture, was applied as an assessment instrument to assess the quality of the reporting. Result: There are 44 articles of RCTs of acupuncture which were met our requirement. The overall reporting quality of the RCTs of acupuncture which was assessed with the revised CONSORT checklist and STRICTA checklist varied between 19% and 70%, with a median score of 43% (standard deviation 12%). As for sham acupuncture, there are four types of design mainly. They are superficial needling on acupuncture point, non-specific needling control, non-insertive simulated needling control and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). Conclusion: The overall reporting quality of RCTs of acupuncture is low. It is necessary to improve the reporting quality. The control design of acupuncture should be improved too.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAcupuncture
Subtitle of host publicationTheories and Evidence
PublisherWorld Scientific Publishing Co.
Number of pages30
ISBN (Electronic)9789814452021
ISBN (Print)9789814452014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2013

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Medicine(all)
  • Neuroscience(all)


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