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Summaries of recent papers
  1. Adrian White1,
  2. Sharon Burton2,
  3. Mark Langweiler3
  1. 1Primary Care Group, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, Plymouth, Devon, UK
  2. 2Wilson St Surgery, Derby, UK
  3. 3Welsh Institute of Chiropractic, University of South Wales, Treforest, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Adrian White, N21 ITTC Building, Tamar Science Park, Plymouth PL6 8BX, UK; Adrian.white{at}

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Clinical trials

Pain and depression

▸ Hopton A, MacPherson H, Keding A, et al. Acupuncture, counselling or usual care for depression and comorbid pain: secondary analysis of a randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open 2014;4:e004964.

Secondary analysis of patients (n=384) with pain and depression


A pragmatic RCT compared acupuncture or counselling with usual care alone. Patients were recruited from GP databases. Acupuncture was customised according to a TCM framework. Depression was scored with Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)-9; pain was scored with SF36 bodily pain, at baseline, and 3-monthly for 1 year.


Of the 755 patients enrolled, 384 (51%) reported moderate-to-extreme pain. They tended to be older than those without pain, and to have more severe depression scores both at baseline and at the end of 3 months in the study. Depression improved more in participants with moderate-to-extreme pain at baseline if they received acupuncture than in those who received counselling or usual care (see figure 1). The difference was significant between acupuncture and usual care, but not between acupuncture and counselling. Within the no-pain group, no notable differences were seen between treatment arms.

Figure 1

Depression scores in patients with pain. PHQ, Patient Health Questionnaire. Based on BMJ Open 2014;d4:e004964.

In addition, the pain scores reduced significantly more in the acupuncture group than in either of the other groups.


Acupuncture was shown to be effective on depression only in the group that had pain at baseline.

Hot flushes

▸ Baccetti S, DaFre M, Becorpi A, et al. Acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine for hot flushes in menopause: a randomized trial. JACM 2014. doi:10.1089/acm.2012.0499

An RCT (n=100) of acupuncture for menopause-related symptoms, as part of an integrated system of therapeutic interventions.


One hundred women with spontaneous menopause were recruited and randomly allocated to one of two groups. One group (A) received diet and self-massage advice and training alongside acupuncture from the start of …

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