Research: SMITH and CROWTHER,

Listed in Issue 91


SMITH and CROWTHER, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, The University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA, Australia,, report on the placebo response in a trial of acupuncture for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy.


In order to assess the adequacy of a sham acupuncture control, its 'credibility' was explored in a study aimed at reducing nausea and vomiting in pregnant women.


593 women with nausea or vomiting in early pregnancy were enrolled in this randomized placebo-controlled study. Participants completed the Rhodes Index of Nausea and Vomiting and the Credibility Rating Scale.


The credibility of the acupuncture and sham acupuncture were not different. The change in nausea at the end of a week of study was 28% for the acupuncture procedure and 7% for the sham procedure. At the end of 3 weeks of study, there was a further small increase in effect: 32% for the acupuncture and 17% for the placebo treatment.


Sham acupuncture is a credible control and allows assessment of the size of the placebo response.


Smith C, Crowther C. The placebo response and effect of time in a trial of acupuncture to treat nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Complementary Therapies in Medicine 10 (4): 210-216, Dec 2002.


As can be seen by the above research studies, there is considerable activity across clinicians and academia to research the effects of acupuncture and to design methods that properly study these effects.

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