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Journal of Integrative Medicine ›› 2017, Vol. 15 ›› Issue (3): 165-171.doi: 10.1016/S2095-4964(17)60338-8

Special Issue: Acupuncture & Moxibustion; Natural Drug

• Review •     Next Articles

Can a science-based definition of acupuncture improve clinical outcomes?

Ted Priebe1, Steven H. Stumpf2, Rod Zalunardo3   

  1. a Healthpointe, Medical Group La Mirada, La Mirada, CA 90638, USA 
    b Department of Health Administration, California State University at Northridge, Northridge, CA 90638, USA 
    c Chief Operations Officer, Health Core Possibilities, Los Angeles, CA 90638, USA
  • Received:2016-12-17 Accepted:2017-02-07 Online:2017-05-15 Published:2017-05-15
  • Contact: Ted Priebe, LAc.; E-mail:

Research on acupuncture has been muddled by attempts to bridge the ancient with the modern. Barriers to effectiveness research are reflected in recurring conflicts that include disagreement on use of the most basic terms, lack of standard intervention controls, and the absence of functional measures for assessing treatment effect. Acupuncture research has stalled at the “placebo barrier” wherein acupuncture is “no better than placebo.” The most widely recognized comparative effectiveness research in acupuncture does not compare acupuncture treatment protocols within groups, thereby, mutating large scale effectiveness studies into large scale efficacy trials. Too often research in acupuncture attempts to tie outcomes to traditional belief systems thereby limiting usefulness of the research. The acupuncture research paradigm needs to focus more closely on a scientific definition of treatments and outcomes that compare protocols in terms of prevalent clinical issues such as relative effectiveness for treating pain.

Key words: Acupuncture, Research, Medicine, Traditional Chinese

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