Background Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease (GORD) is one of the most common diseases presenting to gastroenterology clinics. Acupuncture is widely used as a complementary and alternative treatment for patients with GORD.
Objective To explore the effectiveness of acupuncture for the treatment of GORD.
Methods Four English and four Chinese databases were searched through June 2016. Randomised controlled trials investigating the effectiveness of manual acupuncture or electroacupuncture (MA/EA) for GORD versus or as an adjunct to Western medicine (WM) were selected. Data extraction and quality evaluation were performed by two authors independently and RevMan 5.2.0 was used to analyse data.
Results A total of 12 trials involving 1235 patients were included. Meta-analyses demonstrated that patients receiving MA/EA combined with WM had a superior global symptom improvement compared with those receiving WM alone (relative risk (RR) 1.17, 95% CI 1.09 to 1.26; p=0.03; six studies) with no significant heterogeneity (I2=0%, p=0.41). Recurrence rates of those receiving MA/EA alone were lower than those receiving WM (RR 0.42,95% CI 0.29 to 0.61; p<0.001; three studies) with low heterogeneity (I2=7%, p=0.34), while global symptom improvement (six studies) and symptom scores (three studies) were similar (both p>0.05). Descriptive analyses suggested that acupuncture also improves quality of life in patients with GORD.
Conclusion This meta-analysis suggests that acupuncture is an effective and safe treatment for GORD. However, due to the small sample size and poor methodological quality of the included trials, further studies are required to validate our conclusions.
Trial registration number PROSPERO Systematic review registration no. CRD42016041916.
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Contributors JZ and YG contributed equally to this research. WW, JZ and YG designed the review protocol. JZ, YG, SL and YL carried out the literature search. XS, YY, LH, GW and JZ contributed to data extraction. JZ, YG and WW contributed to quality assessment. JZ and YG performed the analyses and drafted the paper. JJDC, QW, RW and WW revised the paper.
Funding This research was supported by the Fund Sponsorship of the Capital Public Health Project (grant no. Z151100003915144), National Natural Science Foundation of China (grant no. 81573806 and 81403389).
Competing interests None declared.
Patient consent This is a systematic review and meta-analysis.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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