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The York acupuncture safety study: prospective survey of 34 000 treatments by traditional acupuncturists

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 01 September 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:486
  1. Hugh MacPherson, research director (,
  2. Kate Thomas, deputy directorb,
  3. Stephen Walters, lecturer in medical statisticsc,
  4. Mike Fitter, research consultanta
  1. a See Editorial by Vincent and p 485 Foundation for Traditional Chinese Medicine, York YO24 4EY
  2. b Medical Care Research Unit, University of Sheffield, Sheffield S1 4DA
  3. c Sheffield Health Economics Group, School of Health and Related Research, University of Sheffield
  1. Correspondence to: H MacPherson
  • Accepted 23 May 2001

Recent reports have highlighted the importance of having good evidence on the safety of acupuncture. 1 2 Sound evidence on the risks associated with acupuncture is, however, scarce.3 Our primary aim, therefore, was to describe the type and frequency of adverse events after acupuncture. A secondary aim was to examine mild transient reactions associated with acupuncture, some of which may indicate a positive response to treatment.

Participants, methods, and results

The study involved a prospective postal audit of treatments undertaken during a four week period in 2000. All 1848 professional acupuncturists who were members of the British Acupuncture Council and were practising in the United Kingdom were invited to record details of adverse events and mild transient reactions after treatment. Standardised self report forms were used. Participating practitioners also provided information on themselves, including age, sex, length of training, and years of practice. To have a …

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