Acupuncture for posttraumatic stress disorder: a systematic review of randomized controlled trials and prospective clinical trials

By: Kim YD, Heo I, Shin BC, Cindy Crawford, Kang HW, Lim JH
Publication Name: Evid Based Complement Alternat Med
Year: 2013

To evaluate the current evidence for effectiveness of acupuncture for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in the form of a systematic review, a systematic literature search was conducted in 23 electronic databases. Grey literature was also searched. The key search terms were "acupuncture" and "PTSD." No language restrictions were imposed. We included all randomized or prospective clinical trials that evaluated acupuncture and its variants against a waitlist, sham acupuncture, conventional therapy control for PTSD, or without control. Four randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and 2 uncontrolled clinical trials (UCTs) out of 136 articles in total were systematically reviewed. One high-quality RCT reported that acupuncture was superior to waitlist control and therapeutic effects of acupuncture and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) were similar based on the effect sizes. One RCT showed no statistical difference between acupuncture and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). One RCT reported a favorable effect of acupoint stimulation plus CBT against CBT alone. A meta-analysis of acupuncture plus moxibustion versus SSRI favored acupuncture plus moxibustion in three outcomes. This systematic review and meta-analysis suggest that the evidence of effectiveness of acupuncture for PTSD is encouraging but not cogent. Further qualified trials are needed to confirm whether acupuncture is effective for PTSD.

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