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Summaries of recent papers
  1. Adrian White1,
  2. Amer Sheikh2
  1. 1Primary Care Group, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, Plymouth, UK
  2. 2Ashford Health Centre, Ashford Hospital, Ashford, Middlesex, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Adrian White, Primary Care Group, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, N21 ITTC Building, Tamar Science Park, Plymouth PL6 8BX, UK; Adrian.white{at}

Statistics from

Clinical effectiveness trials

Neck pain

▸ Zhang SP, Chiu TTW, Chiu SN. Long-term efficacy of electroacupuncture for chronic neck pain: a randomised controlled trial. Hong Kong Med J 2013;19(Suppl 9):S36–9.

Sham-controlled RCT (n=206), practitioner- and participant-blind.


Patients with neck pain for more than 3 months were randomised to either EA or laser acupuncture at LI4, SI3, GB20, GB21 and GV20 with the option of two further points. EA was given for 45 min, laser for 2 min at each point, without touching the skin. The laser apparatus was inactivated, but neither patients nor practitioner were told.

The main outcome was Northwick Park Neck Pain (NPNP) questionnaire score.


Both groups improved significantly, but there was no significant difference between the groups at any stage, see figure 1.

Figure 1

Neck Pain Questionnaire scores. Based on Hong Kong Med J 2013;19(Suppl 9):S36–9.


The most interesting aspect of this study was the ‘deception’ used to blind the practitioners. This would probably only work once.

The minimum clinically important difference for the NPNP questionnaire is 25%, which neither group achieved. We are not given much information about the patients, and perhaps they had chronic neck pain unresponsive even to natural remission. So there may be something odd about this result.

Postoperative ileus

▸ Ng SSM, Leung WW, Hon SSF, et al. Electroacupuncture for ileus after laparoscopic colorectal surgery: a randomised sham-controlled study. Hong Kong Med J 2013;19(Suppl 9):S33–5.

Three-arm RCT (n=165).


After surgery, patients were randomised to receive EA, sham EA or no acupuncture. The acupuncture was given once a day for 4 days. The EA group were needled at ST36, SP6, LI4 and TE6. De qi was elicited and then 100 Hz was given for 20 min. The sham group were needled superficially about 15 mm away from these points, with an inactive connection to the EA apparatus.

Pethidine was used for rescue analgesia according to a standardised regimen. The …

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