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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2011 (2011), Article ID 183910, 25 pages
Review Article

Randomized Controlled Trials of Acupuncture (1997–2007): An Assessment of Reporting Quality with a CONSORT- and STRICTA-Based Instrument

1Research Department, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine, Portland, OR 97216-2859, USA
2Helfgott Research Institute, National College of Natural Medicine, Portland, OR 97201-4848, USA
3Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, Kaiser Permanente Northwest, Portland, OR 97227-1110, USA
4Fibromyalgia Research Unit, Oregon Health Science University, Portland, OR 97239-3098, USA
5Program in Integrative Medicine and Department of Family & Community Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ 85724-5052, USA

Received 4 March 2010; Accepted 1 July 2010

Copyright © 2011 Richard Hammerschlag 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.


The present study describes the development of a comprehensive quality of reporting assessment tool and its application to acupuncture RCTs from 1997–2007. This Oregon CONSORT STRICTA Instrument (OCSI) is based on the revised CONSORT guidelines as modified by the STRICTA recommendations for acupuncture trials. Each of the resulting 27 OCSI items were applied to English language prospective RCTs that compared acupuncture, using manual and/or electro-stimulation, to no treatment, a sham procedure, or usual biomedical care. The 333 RCTs that met inclusion criteria were dispersed among 27 countries and 141 journals. Mean quality of reporting score for all articles was 63.0% (SD 16.5). Mean OCSI scores revealed a 30.9% improvement over the ten-year period (P<.001). Our findings suggest that to enhance quality of reporting, authors should better attend to seven specific OCSI items in three categories: practitioner training, adverse events, and aspects of randomization and blinding (n=5). The broad diversity in geographical origin, publication site and quality of reporting, viewed in light of the considerable room for improvement in mean OCSI scores, emphasizes the importance of making STRICTA as well as CONSORT more widely known to journals and to the acupuncture research community.