Psykologisk Institut

Lene Vase

Can acupuncture treatment be double-blinded? An evaluation of double-blind acupuncture treatment of postoperative pain

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskrift/Konferencebidrag i tidsskrift /Bidrag til avisTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

  • Lene Vase
  • Sara Baram, Danmark
  • Nobuari Takakura, Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Tokyo Ariake University of Medical and Health Sciences, Tokyo, Japan
  • Miho Takayama, Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Tokyo Ariake University of Medical and Health Sciences, Tokyo, Japan
  • Hiroyoshi Yajima, Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Tokyo Ariake University of Medical and Health Sciences, Tokyo, Japan
  • Akiko Kawase, Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Tokyo Ariake University of Medical and Health Sciences, Tokyo, Japan
  • Lars Schuster, Acupuncture Academy, Ukendt
  • Ted J. Kaptchuk, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA
  • Søren Schou, Danmark
  • Troels Staehelin Jensen
  • Robert Zachariae
  • Peter Svensson

Blinding protects against bias but the success of blinding is seldom assessed and reported in clinical trials including studies of acupuncture where blinding represents a major challenge. Recently, needles with the potential for double-blinding were developed, so we tested if acupuncture can be double-blinded in a randomized study of sixty-seven patients with acute pain ≥ 3 (0-10 scale following third molar removal) who received active acupuncture with a penetrating needle or placebo acupuncture with a non-penetrating needle. To test if acupuncture was administered double-blind, patients and acupuncturists were asked about perceived treatment allocation at the end of the study. To test if there were clues which led to identification of the treatment, deep dull pain associated with needle application and rotation (termed "de qi" in East Asian medicine), and patients' pain levels were assessed. Perceived treatment allocation depended on actual group allocation (p < 0.015) for both patients and acupuncturists, indicating that the needles were not successful in doubleblinding. Up to 68% of patients and 83% of acupuncturists correctly identified the treatment, but for patients the distribution was not far from 50/50. Also, there was a significant interaction between actual or perceived treatment and the experience of de qi (p = 0.027), suggesting that the experience of de qi and possible non-verbal clues contributed to correct identification of the treatment. Yet, of the patients who perceived the treatment as active or placebo, 50% and 23%, respectively, reported de qi. Patients' acute pain levels did not influence the perceived treatment. In conclusion, acupuncture treatment was not fully dou-ble- blinded which is similar to observations in pharmacological studies. Still, the nonpenetrating needle is the only needle that allows some degree of practitioner blinding. The study raises questions about alternatives to double-blind randomized clinical trials in the assessment of acupuncture treatment.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
Artikelnummere0119612
TidsskriftP L o S One
Vol/bind10
Nummer3
Antal sider15
ISSN1932-6203
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 6 mar. 2015

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