Article Text

Effectiveness of acupuncture in postpartum depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis
  1. Shanshan Li1,2,
  2. Weiqiang Zhong3,
  3. Wen Peng4,
  4. Gaofeng Jiang1
  1. 1 Center for Translational Medicine, Tianyou Hospital, Wuhan University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
  2. 2 Medical College, Wuhan University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China
  3. 3 Shanghai China Metallurgical Hospital, Shanghai, China
  4. 4 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Shanghai China Metallurgical Hospital, Shanghai, China
  1. Correspondence to Professor Gaofeng Jiang, Center for Translational Medicine, Tianyou Hospital, Wuhan University of Science and Technology , Wuhan 947, China; jianggaofeng{at}


Objective To assess the clinical effectiveness of acupuncture in the treatment of postpartum depression (PPD).

Methods The following electronic databases were systematically searched: PubMed, Cochrane Library, SCI, Elsevier SDOL, China National Knowledge, Wan Fang database and Chinese Science and Technology Periodical Database. Only randomised controlled trials (RCTs) of acupuncture for PPD were considered. Primary outcomes were the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD) or the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS) scores and effective rate. Our secondary outcome was the level of oestradiol. The quality of all included trials was evaluated according to the Cochrane Collaboration. This protocol was registered in PROSPERO (CRD42016048528).

Results Nine trials involving 653 women were selected. The result of this meta-analysis demonstrated that the acupuncture group had a significantly greater overall effective rate compared with the control group (seven trials, n=576, I2=24%; relative risk (RR) 1.15, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.24; P<0.001). Moreover, acupuncture significantly increased oestradiol levels compared with the control group (mean difference (MD) 36.92, 95% CI 23.14 to 50.71, P<0.001). Regarding the HAMD and EPDS scores, no difference was found between the two groups (five trials, n=276, I2=82%; MD−1.38, 95% CI −3.40 to 0.64; P=0.18; two trials, n=60, I2=16%; MD 1.08, 95% CI −1.09 to 3.26; P=0.33).

Conclusions Acupuncture appears to be effective for postpartum depression with respect to certain outcomes. However, the evidence thus far is inconclusive. Further high-quality RCTs following standardised guidelines with a low risk of bias are needed to confirm the effectiveness of acupuncture for postpartum depression.

  • acupuncture
  • auricular acupuncture
  • electroacupuncture

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  • Contributors GJ and WP developed the search strategy. SL and WP selected the studies. GJ and SL extracted the data. SL and WZ entered the data into Revman 5.3. All authors interpreted the results, drafted and revised the manuscript and approved the final version accepted for publication.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Young and Middle-aged Medical Scholar Training Project of Wuhan Health and the Family Planning Commission [2017].

  • Competing interests None declared.

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

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