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Letters Response

Charlotte Paterson and colleagues respond to Margaret McCartney

BMJ 2011; 343 doi: (Published 10 August 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;343:d5052
  1. Charlotte Paterson, senior research fellow1,
  2. Nicky Britten, professor of applied health care1,
  3. Sue Rugg, research fellow1,
  4. Rod S Taylor, professor in health services research1,
  5. Peter Griffiths, professor of health services research2,
  6. Jackie Bridges, senior lecturer2,
  7. Bruce McCallum, acupuncture practitioner3,
  8. Gerad Kite, acupuncture practitioner4
  1. 1Peninsula Medical School, University of Exeter, EX2 4SG, UK
  2. 2University of Southampton, Southampton, SO17 1BJ, UK
  3. 3London NW1 8XE, UK
  4. 4London SE5 8RF, UK
  1. charlotte.paterson{at}

The CACTUS Study is a randomised pragmatic trial with a nested qualitative study comparing traditional acupuncture with usual care in people who consult frequently with medically unexplained symptoms.1 2 Margaret McCartney has based her Observations article about it on several inaccuracies (quotations from her article in italics below).3

(1) The “wellbeing score” was better in the control group than in the acupuncture group. This statement is untrue: an adjusted mean difference in favour of acupuncture was seen with wellbeing (wellbeing questionnaire, W-BQ12: 4.4 (1.6 to 7.2); P=0.002). This difference remained significant after missing values were imputed (3.4 (0.5 to 6.3); P=0.02).

(2) The graphical …

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