Intended for healthcare professionals


More on BMA's approval of acupuncture

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: (Published 06 January 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:45

BMA replies to correspondence

  1. William Asscher, chairman
  1. Board of Science and Education, BMA, London WC1H 9JP
  2. Liberton Hospital, Edinburgh EH16 6UB
  3. Royal London Homoeopathic Hospital, London WC1N 3HR

    EDITOR—Moore et al and Kovacs and Gil del Real criticise the BMA's report on acupuncture. 1 2 Our review of the evidence base of acupuncture rested heavily on the comprehensive work of Ernst and White, which summarised the clinical evidence for and against the effectiveness of acupuncture.3

    The conclusion of this work is that acupuncture seems to be more effective than sham acupuncture or other control interventions for some conditions, including nausea and vomiting, back pain, dental pain, and migraine. However, for smoking cessation, weight loss, and a range of other conditions the present evidence is unclear. We discussed the problems introduced in basing conclusions on poor quality studies or reports.

    Our survey of general practice throughout the United Kingdom showed that acupuncture is the complementary therapy most used by general practitioners, with most patients being referred for pain relief and musculoskeletal disorders. Acupuncture is now reported to be used routinely ahead of physiotherapy and drug delivery systems in 86% of chronic pain services.4

    The thrust of our recommendations seems to have been missed. The BMA calls for substantial research funding, the production of guidelines, and a formal appraisal of acupuncture. Kovacs and Gil del Real should note that …

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