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Review of randomised controlled trials of traditional Chinese medicine

BMJ 1999; 319 doi: (Published 17 July 1999) Cite this as: BMJ 1999;319:160
  1. Jin-Ling Tang, associate professor in community medicine (,
  2. Si-Yan Zhan, associate professor in epidemiologyb,
  3. Edzard Ernst, professor of complementary medicinec
  1. a Department of Community and Family Medicine, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, New Territories, Hong Kong
  2. b School of Public Health, Beijing Medical University, Beijing, People's Republic of China
  3. c Department of Complementary Medicine, Postgraduate Medical School, University of Exeter, Exeter EX2 4NT
  1. Correspondence to: Professor Tang
  • Accepted 24 November 1998

Many randomised controlled trials have been conducted in China to evaluate the effectiveness of traditional Chinese medicine, but much of the information is inaccessible to Western doctors. We estimated the total number of randomised controlled trials published in China and identified problems in applying such methodology to the evaluation of traditional Chinese medicine, which would serve as preparatory work for systematic review and dissemination of the randomised evidence for such medicine.

Methods and results

We randomly selected 28 journals using stratified sampling from a total of 100 Chinese journals of traditional Chinese medicine (4 national, 10 university, 10 provincial or regional, and 4 specialist journals). After special training, eight fifth year medical students (working in pairs) hand searched all the issues of the journals published before 1 January 1997 to identify randomised controlled trials. Discrepancies were settled by one of the principal investigators (S-YZ). Data on methodological quality of randomised controlled trials were extracted from 414 full length articles …

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