Acupuncture GIGO: An Inexhaustible Resource

Acupuncture GIGO: An Inexhaustible Resource

I sometimes feel like I am picking on acupuncture. I write more on this pseudo-medicine than another, probably as there are more bad studies with inappropriate conclusions crossing my screen than any other topic.

I have mentioned in the past that most of the chiropractic notifications I get concern business announcements, legal problems and practice building. Chiropractic 'science' never seems to show up in my Google and Pubmed notifications.

Flawed acupuncture studies are apparently inexhaustible with Asia the worlds primary exporter. So often major flaw in the study in question is no placebo. It flabbers my gaster than anyone in the year 2014 would be so clueless as to publish an acupuncture trail without sham therapy.

 

For example, Acupuncture for overactive bladder in female adult: a randomized controlled trial. They compared a placebo (acupuncture) with a medication (tolterodine) and found them equivalent for treating symptoms at 4 weeks using a diary.

Sigh.

No placebo control and patient reported symptoms in a study out of Asia where they almost never have a negative acupuncture study. Somehow I suspect their conclusion that

This randomized controlled trial demonstrates that acupuncture is safe with significant improvements in patient assessment of overactive bladder symptoms and may be considered a clinically alternative treatment for overactive bladder in female adult.

is overly optimistic.  It would be so nice if they had a placebo, blinding and an objective endpoint or three.

And the problem with flawed studies contaminates meta-analyses on the efficacy of acupuncture as noted in Reporting quality of systematic reviews/meta-analyses of acupuncture. This is not the first evaluation of acupuncture meta-analyses to find them flawed. In this study they note, among other issues,

In general, the least frequently reported items (reported≤50%) in SRs/MAs were "protocol and registration", "risk of bias across studies," and "additional analyses" in both methods and results sections.

Lack of reporting risk of bias. I can see why bias risk is not reported since all the effects of acupuncture disappear when bias is removed. 

There is  no such thing a perpetual motion but there is perpetual production of pseudo-medical studies.  

Points of Interest 11/18/2014
Points of Interest 11/17/2014

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