Article Text

Comparison of electroacupuncture and medical treatment for functional constipation: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Sheng-Li Zhou1,
  2. Xiu-Lai Zhang2,
  3. Jing-Hua Wang1
  1. 1 General Medicine, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University College of Medicine, Hangzhou, China
  2. 2 Department of Anesthesiology, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University College of Medicine, Hangzhou, China
  1. Correspondence to Xiu-Lai Zhang, Department of Anesthesiology, The Second Affiliated Hospital of Zhejiang University College of Medicine, No. 88, Jiefang Road, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, 310009, China; zhangxiulai09{at}


Objectives To assess the effectiveness of electroacupuncture (EA) relative to conventional medication in functional constipation (FC).

Design Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Setting To be included, studies needed to: (1) have been randomised controlled trials; (2) have recruited adult patients diagnosed with FC according to the Rome II/III criteria or the American Gastroenterological Association guideline for chronic FC; and (3) have randomised patients to be treated with EA or anti-constipation medication. We searched Medline, the Cochrane Library and Embase databases for articles published up to 30 June 2016.

Intervention EA or anti-constipation medication.

Primary and secondary outcome measures The primary outcome was the change in the number of weekly spontaneous bowel movements. Secondary outcomes were total response rate (or total effective rate), symptom reduction and Cleveland Clinic constipation scores.

Results The pooled results showed significantly more improvement in the frequency of spontaneous bowel movements in the EA treatment group compared with the medicine-treated group (pooled SMD 0.244, 95% CI 0.065 to 0.424, P=0.008). Deep-needling EA was significantly more effective than treatment with medication at increasing the frequency of spontaneous bowel movements (p=0.019). Significantly greater improvement was also seen for total response rates (p=0.018) and reductions in symptom score (p<0.001) in EA-treated patients.

Conclusions EA was more effective than medication at improving spontaneous bowel movements and total response rate, and reducing the symptoms of FC.

  • constipation
  • acupuncture
  • acupuncture therapy
  • complementary treatments
  • laxatives
  • defecation

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  • Contributors S-LZ guaranteed the integrity of the entire study, conceptualised and designed the work, defined its intellectual content, and participated in the literature search and manuscript preparation, editing and review. X-LZ aquired the data, performed the statistical analysis and participated in data analysis. J-HW contributed to the literature research and data analysis. All authors read and approved the final accepted version of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This paper has been amended since it was published Online First. Owing to a scripting error, some of the publisher names in the references were replaced with ‘BMJ Publishing Group’. This only affected the full text version, not the PDF. We have since corrected these errors and the correct publishers have been inserted into the references. The value 0.0065 was also originally listed as −0.0065 in the abstract results and main body results. This has been updated online.

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