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Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 194047, 10 pages
Review Article

Randomized Controlled Trials on Complementary and Traditional Medicine in the Korean Literature

1Department of Korean Medicine, School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan 626-870, Republic of Korea
2Medical Research Division, Korea Institute of Oriental Medicine, Daejeon 305-811, Republic of Korea
3Department of Acupuncture & Moxibustion, Korean Medicine Hospital, Kyung Hee University, Seoul 130-872, Republic of Korea
4Center for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD 21201, USA
5Department of Rehabilitation Medicine, School of Korean Medicine, Pusan National University, Yangsan 626-870, Republic of Korea

Received 22 August 2014; Revised 28 November 2014; Accepted 28 November 2014; Published 24 December 2014

Academic Editor: Il-Moo Chang

Copyright © 2014 Chang-Kyu Kim 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.


Objective. This study aimed to identify all of the features of complementary and alternative (CAM) randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in the Korean literature and then introduce English-speaking researchers to the bibliometric and risk of bias characteristics of this literature. Methods. Eleven electronic databases and sixteen Korean journals were searched to August 2013 for RCTs of CAM therapies. Key study characteristics were extracted and risk of bias was assessed using the Cochrane Collaboration’s tool for assessing risk of bias. Results. Three hundred and sixty publications met our inclusion criteria. Complementary and traditional medicine RCTs in the Korean literature emerged in the mid-1990s and increased in the mid-2000s. The most common CAM interventions include acupuncture (59.4%) and herbal medicine (8.3%). The largest proportion of trials evaluated CAM for musculoskeletal conditions (20.7%). Adequate methods of randomization were reported in 41.7% of the RCTs, whereas only 8.3% reported adequate allocation concealment. A low proportion of trials reported participant blinding (34.2%) and outcome assessor blinding (22.5%). Conclusions. Korean CAM RCTs are typically omitted from systematic reviews resulting in the potential for language bias. This study will enable these trials of diverse quality to be identified and assessed for inclusion in future systematic reviews on CAM interventions.