Physician and treatment characteristics in a randomised multicentre trial of acupuncture in patients with osteoarthritis of the knee
ABSTRACT The aim of this paper is to describe the treatment and physician characteristics in a randomised trial of acupuncture for osteoarthritis of the knee.
Three-armed, randomised, controlled multicentre trial with 1-year follow-up.
Twenty-eight outpatient centres in Germany.
A total of 294 patients with osteoarthritis of the knee were randomised to 12 sessions of semi-standardised acupuncture (at least 6 local and 2 distant points needled per affected knee from a selection of predefined points, but individual choice of additional body or ear acupuncture points possible), 12 sessions of minimal acupuncture (superficial needling of at least 8 of 10 predefined, bilateral, distant non-acupuncture points) or a waiting list control (2 months no acupuncture).
Participating trial physicians and interventions.
Forty-seven physicians specialised in acupuncture (mean age 43+/-8 years, 26 females) provided study interventions in 28 outpatient centres in Germany. The median duration of acupuncture training completed by participating physicians was 350 h (range 140-2508). The total number of needles used was 17.4+/-4.8 in the acupuncture group compared to 12.9+/-3.3 in the minimal acupuncture group. In total, 39 physicians (83%) stated that they would have treated patients in either a similar or in exactly the same way outside of the trial, whereas 7 (15%) stated that they would have treated patients differently (1 missing).
Our documentation of the trial interventions shows that semi-standardised acupuncture strategy represents an acceptable compromise for efficacy studies. However, a substantial minority of participating trial physicians stated that they would have treated patients differently outside of the trial.
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