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Study Finds Acupuncture as a Clinical Service both Effective and a Good Value
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM

Good news for anyone considering acupuncture--the medical journal Acupuncture in Medicine published a study showing that acupuncture treatment is both effective and a good value. The study, "A systematic review of cost-effectiveness analyses alongside randomized controlled trials of acupuncture," outlines the cost-effectiveness of acupuncture treatments.

Researchers sifted through eleven worldwide databases to provide a comprehensive economic evaluation of acupuncture treatments. The study focused on treatments that were done in randomized, controlled trials (RCT). This means the group receiving acupuncture therapy is compared to a control group which receives no treatment or a placebo.

The study investigated acupuncture treatment for any medical condition and targeted specific areas for analyses. These areas included cost-effectiveness analyses (CEU), cost-benefit analyses (CBA), cost-utility analyses (CUA), and incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER). The study concluded that acupuncture is cost-effective and offers economic value for patients. Additionally, acupuncture was shown to cause no adverse reactions and was proclaimed to be safe.

The study had to contend with the fact that the cost of acupuncture treatments varies according to country, and even within a country there is inconsistent pricing. Certain medical conditions fared better than others in terms of cost-effectiveness. Acupuncture for dysmenorrhea, a condition of pain experienced during menstruation, proved to be the most cost-effective. Researchers also note the potential cost-effectiveness for pain in the cases of headache, osteoarthritis, and lower back pain.

In general, the study showed that the use of acupuncture for many medical conditions is cost-effective. The medical condition with the highest incremental cost-effectiveness turned out to be rhinitis, while the condition with the lowest ICER was dysmenorrhea.

Source: Kim, S.-Y., Lee, H., Chae, Y., Park, H.-J., & Lee, H. (2012). "A systematic review of cost-effectiveness analyses alongside randomised controlled trials of acupuncture". Acupuncture in Medicine, 30(4), 273–285.


About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.