A new study assesses the effectiveness of acupuncture for cancer-related fatigue (CRF) in patients with breast cancer.
We conducted a pragmatic, randomized controlled trial comparing acupuncture with enhanced usual care. Three hundred two outpatients with breast cancer participated. We randomly assigned 75 patients to usual care and 227 patients to acupuncture plus usual care (random assignment of 1:3 respectively) with minimization controlling for baseline general fatigue and maintenance treatment. Treatment was delivered by acupuncturists once a week for 6 weeks through needling three pairs of acupoints. The usual care group received a booklet with information about fatigue and its management.
Conclusion Acupuncture is an effective intervention for managing the symptom of CRF and improving patients’ quality of life.
Another ancupuncture trial, another missed opportunity to do some solid science. These kind of “Pragmatic” accupuncture trials have become common place in recent years. The lack of a placebo group in this trial makes the conclusion that “Acupuncture is an effective intervention for managing the symptoms of CRF and improving patients’ quality of life” a huge overstatement to say the least. Without a proper blinded and placebo controlled protocol the most you can say is that acupuncture might be an effective intervention. The argument from the author that “sham” acupuncture was not appropriate or may be unethical is weak to say the least. Plenty of well controlled well blinded i.e high quality studies have shown that acupuncture has little more than a placebo effect, I think it’s time we let go and started researching things that are more likely to be productive.
I have written a blog post that covers this topic in more detail