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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 6 (2009), Issue 1, Pages 41-48
http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ecam/nem130
Review

Randomized Clinical Trials on Acupuncture in Korean Literature: A Systematic Review

1Department of Oriental Rehabilitation Medicine, College of Oriental Medicine, Wonkwang University, Iksan, Republic of Korea
2Complementary Medicine, Peninsula Medical School, Universities of Exeter and Plymouth, Exeter, United Kingdom
3Department of Medical Research, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon, Republic of Korea
4Department of Oriental Rehabilitation Medicine, College of Oriental Medicine, Wonkwang University, Iksan, 570-749, Republic of Korea

Received 29 November 2006; Accepted 23 July 2007

Copyright © 2009 Jae Cheol Kong 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.

Abstract

The aim of this systematic review was to summarize randomized clinical trials (RCTs) assessing the effectiveness of acupuncture as published in Korean literature. Systematic searches were conducted on eight Korean medical databases. Manual searches were also conducted through eight major Korean medical journals. The methodological quality was assessed using a Jadad score. Studies evaluating needle acupuncture or auricular acupuncture (AA) with or without electrical stimulation were considered if they were sham or placebo-controlled or controlled against a comparative intervention. We also excluded acupuncture as an adjuvant to other treatments and other forms of acupuncture were excluded. Seven hundred and nine possibly relevant studies were identified and 10 RCTs were included. The methodological quality of the trials was generally poor. Manual acupuncture was compared to placebo acupuncture in four studies of patients with chronic low back pain, shoulder pain, premenstrual syndrome and allergic rhinitis. Three studies tested AA (two trials) and electroacupuncture (one trial) against no treatment, while three trials compared acupuncture with other active therapeutic controls. The methodological limitations of the included trials make their contribution to the current clinical evidence of acupuncture somewhat limited. The trial for premenstrual syndrome, shoulder pain and chronic low back pain added a limited contribution among those included RCTs. However, well-designed RCTs of acupuncture with a rigorous methodology are in progress or have been completed in Korea and will contribute to establish or contribute to the current progress of research in this field.