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Knowledge, attitude and practice among Chinese acupuncturists receiving sham and/or placebo acupuncture: a cross-sectional survey
  1. Chunlan Jin1,
  2. Xinyao Zhou2,
  3. Ran Pang3
  1. 1Institute of Acupuncture and Moxibustion, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing, China
  2. 2Division of Internal Medicine, Guang An Men Hospital, Beijing, China
  3. 3Division of Urology, Guang An Men Hospital, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, Beijing, China
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ran Pang, Division of Urology, Guang An Men Hospital, China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences, No 5 Bei Xian Ge Street, Xicheng District, Beijing 100053, China; pangran2002{at}


Background Placebo and sham acupuncture are common control strategies in acupuncture studies. However, the perception and practice of these approaches in acupuncturists are poorly documented.

Objective To investigate knowledge of, attitude towards and practice of sham and/or placebo acupuncture among Chinese acupuncturists.

Method A cross-sectional survey conducted in six different tertiary care hospitals of traditional Chinese medicine in Beijing, China. A total of 92 licensed acupuncturists were asked to complete a predesigned and structured questionnaire on-site.

Results A response rate of 92.4% (n=85) was achieved. Almost all participants (99%, n=84) had moderate knowledge about sham and/or placebo acupuncture, but only a minority (27%, n=23) reported an excellent understanding. The general attitude towards sham and/or placebo acupuncture was positive. Most respondents (99%, n=84) thought such controls were necessary and the majority (81%, n=69) believed they were feasible in acupuncture research. More than two-thirds of participants (71%, n=60) had applied sham and/or placebo acupuncture, but only a few (8%, 5/60) used it as the most common control strategy in clinical trials.

Conclusions The result of our survey suggests that Chinese acupuncturists have a moderate knowledge of, and a positive attitude towards, sham and/or placebo acupuncture. Research into sham and/or placebo acupuncture is limited in comparison with other control strategies. Therefore, an in-service education programme for acupuncturists and standardisation of sham and/or placebo acupuncture need to be developed.


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