Introduction: the multicentre, pragmatic, randomised controlled Acuflash study evaluated the effect of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) acupuncture on postmenopausal vasomotor symptoms and health-related quality of life. It concluded that use of acupuncture in addition to self-care can contribute to a clinically relevant reduction of hot flushes and increased health-related quality of life. This article reports on the TCM syndrome diagnoses and acupuncture points used and their relation to the treatment response, and on treatment reactions and adverse events.
Methods: the acupuncture group (n = 134) received 10 acupuncture treatment sessions and advice on self-care; the control group (n = 133) received advice on self-care only. The study acupuncturists met the current membership criteria of the Norwegian Acupuncture Society, and had at least 3 years' experience of practising TCM acupuncture. They were free to diagnose and select acupuncture points for each participant, after initial discussion.
Results: fifty per cent of the participants in the acupuncture group were diagnosed with Kidney Yin Xu as their primary TCM syndrome diagnosis. No statistically significant differences were demonstrated between the syndrome groups regarding the distribution of responders and non-responders, nor regarding the change in health-related quality of life scores. A core of common acupuncture points (SP6, HT6, KI7, KI6, CV4, LU7, LI4, and LR3) were used in all the syndromes, and in addition multiple idiosyncratic points. Core point selection and frequency of use did not differ between responders and non-responders. No serious adverse events were reported.
Conclusion: factors other than the TCM syndrome diagnoses and the point selection may be of importance regarding the outcome of the treatment.