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Placebo acupuncture improved symptoms and quality of life in irritable bowel syndrome

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T J Kaptchuk

Dr T J Kaptchuk, Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA; ted_kaptchuk@hms.harvard.edu

STUDY DESIGN

Design:

randomised controlled trial (RCT).

Allocation:

concealed.*

Blinding:

blinded (patients, outcome assessors, {data collectors, and data analysts}†).*

STUDY QUESTION

Setting:

academic medical centre {in Boston, MA, USA}†.

Patients:

262 patients (mean age 39 y, 76% women) who had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and a Symptom Severity Scale score ⩾150. Exclusion criteria included loss of >10% of body weight, fever, blood in stool, family history of colon cancer, inflammatory bowel disease, and previous acupuncture.

Intervention:

augmented placebo (n = 87), limited placebo (n = 88), or wait list (n = 87). Placebo treatments were sham acupuncture (6–8 dummy needles twice/wk). The augmented-placebo group had a defined positive patient–doctor relationship (25 min of warmth, active listening, thoughtful silence, …

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