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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 4 (2007), Issue 2, Pages 267-270
Meeting Report

Standardization of Nomenclature in Acupuncture Research (SoNAR)

1School of Health Professions and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, United Kingdom
2Stanford University, USA
3University of Technology, Sydney, Australia
4Regional Adviser in Traditional Medicine, World Health Organization Western Pacific Regional Office, Philippines

Received 13 July 2006; Accepted 18 October 2006

Copyright © 2007 Peter White et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


As more clinical acupuncture trials for pain are published, it becomes increasingly difficult to compare and evaluate the merits and shortcomings of such studies. A major contributory factor to this centers on the description of, and the assumptions made about, the control intervention used. In considering an acupuncture control, it is important to evaluate its physiological activity and thus far, this has not been done. A variety of different and sometimes very novel controls have been tried and used in the research setting and the inevitable consequence of this is confusion, particularly when attempting to interpret the results of trials. Researchers and other interested parties such as patients, primary care practitioners, funding agencies etc., searching for evidence in the literature are likely to be misled or confused by such variability. There is therefore a need to define and standardize many of these terms, to clarify reporting and to convey the correct information in a way that it is not misleading. This paper details the background and need for this and is primarily intended to assist those who intend to publish primary and secondary acupuncture research. However, standardization of reporting will be of benefit to anybody who will need to examine the literature for evidence. This article proposes and recommends a nomenclature when reporting future acupuncture clinical research. This nomenclature arose through discussion at a meeting convened by the World Health Organisation (Western Pacific Regional Office) and will be incorporated into their policy document later this year.