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J Integr Med. 2018 May;16(3):164-171. doi: 10.1016/j.joim.2018.01.003. Epub 2018 Jan 31.

Patient blinding with blunt tip placebo acupuncture needles: comparison between 1 mm and 2 mm skin press.

Author information

1
Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Faculty of Health Sciences, Tokyo Ariake University of Medical and Health Sciences, Tokyo 135-0063, Japan; Department of Physiology, Showa University School of Medicine, Tokyo 142-8555, Japan; Japan School of Acupuncture, Moxibustion and Physiotherapy, Tokyo 150-0031, Japan. Electronic address: takakura@tau.ac.jp.
2
Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Faculty of Health Sciences, Tokyo Ariake University of Medical and Health Sciences, Tokyo 135-0063, Japan; Department of Physiology, Showa University School of Medicine, Tokyo 142-8555, Japan; Japan School of Acupuncture, Moxibustion and Physiotherapy, Tokyo 150-0031, Japan.
3
Department of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, Faculty of Health Sciences, Tokyo Ariake University of Medical and Health Sciences, Tokyo 135-0063, Japan.
4
Japan School of Acupuncture, Moxibustion and Physiotherapy, Tokyo 150-0031, Japan.

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the influence of the depth of skin press in blunt tip placebo acupuncture needles on patient blinding and its relationship to needle diameter.

METHODS:

Forty healthy volunteers were enrolled as subjects for patient blinding. Four acupuncturists applied the following needles randomly at three points in each forearm: 0.18 mm and 0.25 mm diameter penetrating needles inserted to a depth of 5 mm, and 0.18 mm and 0.25 mm diameter skin-touch needles depressing the skin at the acupoint to a depth of 1 mm and 2 mm from the skin surface. The subjects reported their guesses at the nature of needles they received, and rated needle pain and de qi. A blinding index was calculated to define the success of blinding for subjects.

RESULTS:

The blinding status of subjects for 1 mm press needles of 0.18 mm diameter was "random guess", but "unblinded" for 1 mm press needles of 0.25 mm diameter. For 2 mm press needles of both diameters, the blinding status was "opposite guess" and the blinding status for penetrating needles of both diameters was "unblinded." The percentages of "felt pain" with 2 mm press needles of both diameters were similar to that with penetrating needles, but those were not similar for 1 mm press needles. The frequency of de qi occurrence with 2 mm press needles of 0.18 mm diameter was similar to that of penetrating needles of both diameters.

CONCLUSION:

Placebo needles of 2 mm press made more subjects guess that the needles penetrated the skin than 1 mm press needles. The use of small diameter needles increased patient blinding.

KEYWORDS:

Acupuncture; De qi; Double-blind method; Placebo; Sham

PMID:
29753429
DOI:
10.1016/j.joim.2018.01.003
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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