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Schmerz. 2005 Jun;19(3):201-4, 206, 208-10 passim.

[German Acupuncture Trials (gerac) address problems of methodology associated with acupuncture studies].

[Article in German]

Author information

  • 1Abteilung Medizinische Informatik-Biometrie-Epidemiologie, Ruhr-Universit├Ąt Bochum.

Erratum in

  • Schmerz. 2005 Aug;19(4):333.



Conflicting or ambivalent findings on the effectiveness of body acupuncture in pain treatment are often attributed to flaws in study methodology. The paper describes the methodology used for the German Acupuncture Trials (gerac), which demonstrates that it is possible to design acupuncture studies in accordance with the standards of good clinical practice.


Approximately 1000 chronic pain sufferers per indication (migraine, tension-type headache, low back pain (cLBP), or gonarthrosis) are randomly allocated to one of three treatment groups (verum acupuncture, sham acupuncture, or established conservative therapy). Patients are blind to the type of acupuncture. All patients receive ten sessions of treatment (two per week) with an option of adding five more treatments in cases of slight but insufficient improvement (number of headache days or von Korff pain score). Participating physicians are in private practice, representing a variety of specialties. All have completed at least a 140-hour training course in acupuncture. Mandatory and optional verum and sham points are predefined. The point selection is individualized according to the criteria of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). Primary outcome measures are number of headache days per month, von Korff Graded Chronic Pain Scale or Hannover Functional Ability Questionnaire (cLBP), or WOMAC scores (gonarthrosis). Data are assessed by trained telephone interviewers not involved in treatment and blind to types of acupuncture.


Over 500 participating physicians in ten urban areas of Germany. Patient recruitment for cLBP and gonarthrosis was completed in November 2003 and March 2004 respectively. Recruitment for chronic headaches will be completed in autumn 2004.


The gerac trials prove that it is possible to design and carry out acupuncture studies in accordance to stringent standards of methodology and clinical practice. The results will form a basis for the assessment of acupuncture effectiveness in Germany and abroad.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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