Article Text


The programme for the evaluation of patient care with acupuncture (PEP-Ac) – a project sponsored by ten German social health insurance funds
  1. Klaus Linde, epidemiologist,
  2. Andrea Streng, clinical researcher,
  3. Andrea Hoppe, clinical researcher,
  4. Susanne Jürgens, clinical researcher,
  5. Wolfgang Weidenhammer, biostatistician,
  6. Dieter Melchart
  1. Centre for Complementary Medicine Research, Department of Internal Medicine II
  2. Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany
  1. Klaus.Linde{at}


Objective The aim of the Programme for the Evaluation of Patient care with Acupuncture (PEP-Ac) was to investigate the efficacy, effectiveness and safety of acupuncture in patients with the following three indications: chronic headache, chronic low back pain and chronic osteoarthritic pain. This article provides an overview of the results of the whole programme.

Methods The programme included five randomised trials, a large observational study, a survey of physicians providing acupuncture, and three systematic reviews.

Results The results show that, for all three indications, acupuncture, when compared to no treatment, produces a clear benefit that lasts for at least several months. However the effects of point-specific acupuncture only offered a significant advantage over minimal acupuncture in the treatment of OA knee.

Conclusions The evidence from these trials – on the one hand, a clear overall effect of acupuncture and on the other hand, the lack of evidence supporting its superiority over sham acupuncture for all indications except osteoarthritis of the knee – leaves a considerable amount of room for interpretation.

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