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BMA approves acupuncture

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 11 November 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1220

This article has a correction. Please see:

BMA report is wrong

  1. R A Moore (, consultant,
  2. H J McQuay, professor of pain relief,
  3. A D Oldman, research associate,
  4. L E Smith, research associate
  1. Pain Research and Nuffield Department of Anaesthetics, University of Oxford, The Churchill, Oxford OX3 7LJ
  2. Kovacs Foundation, Scientific Department, Palma de Mallorca 07012, Spain

    EDITOR—The BMA report on acupuncture is regrettable. It suggests, among other things, that acupuncture is effective for back pain, dental pain, and migraine. Three recent systematic reviews show the importance of basing judgments on high quality information.

    For back pain, four randomised and blind studies showed no benefit; five open studies showed benefit.1 The BMA's conclusion that acupuncture was effective in back pain was based on all nine studies.

    For dental pain, a review of 16 studies concluded that it was effective.2 Many of these were not randomised, were not blind, or had major flaws. Only three small studies were adequate, and these showed no convincing benefit.3

    For migraine, trials showing a significant benefit from acupuncture were inadequately randomised or not blind.4 The reviewers themselves were highly circumspect about ascribing any clinical significance to acupuncture.

    The BMA report concluded that results for acupuncture are inconclusive in …

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