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Clin J Pain. 2006 Sep;22(7):632-8.

Developing a research strategy for acupuncture.

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  • 1School of Medicine, University of Southampton, Southampton, UK.


This strategic overview revisits some of the basic assumptions that relate to the clinical evaluation of acupuncture. We look at the evidence available to estimate both the specific and nonspecific effect size of acupuncture (efficacy and effectiveness) and consider the placebo within acupuncture trials, as well as the value of both placebo controlled trials and pragmatic acupuncture studies. We argue for an augmented, mixed methodology that integrates basic mechanism studies, including modern imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance, quantitative and qualitative research, as well as safety and health economic data to obtain a more rigorous understanding of acupuncture. We hope that by taking a broad, patient-centered, and rigorous approach we may arrive at a realistic and thoughtful evaluation of its relative value in comparison to placebo treatment, conventional medicine, and its potential for integration into conventional clinical care.

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