Objective: The goal of this study was to determine whether acupuncture would relieve the vasomotor symptoms of post-menopausal women.
Design: A randomized, single-blind trial.
Setting: A small city in a rural area of Eastern Oregon.
Interventions: Women were recruited into the study from the community by advertising or physician referral. All study subjects were in non-surgical menopause and medically stable. Study subjects were randomly assigned to receive 12 weeks of treatment with either Chinese Traditional Medicine (TCM) acupuncture (n=27) or shallow needle (sham) acupuncture (n=24).
Outcome measures: Study participants kept a diary recording their hot flashes each day. At baseline, study participants filled out Greene Climacteric Scales and the Beck Depression and Anxiety Inventories. These same outcomes were also measured at week 4 of treatment and at 1 week and 12 weeks after treatment. The number of hot flashes and the numeric scores on the Climacteric Scales and the Beck inventories were compared between the verum and shallow needling groups using two-way repeated measures.
Results: Both groups of women showed statistically significant improvement on all study parameters. However, there was no difference between the improvement in the shallow needle and verum acupuncture groups. Study subjects were not able to guess which group they had been assigned to.
Conclusions: This study showed that both shallow needling and verum acupuncture were effective treatments of post-menopausal vasomotor symptoms. Study subjects were not able to distinguish shallow needling from real TCM acupuncture. Shallow needling may have therapeutic effects in itself reducing its utility as a "placebo" control for verum acupuncture. This result is consistent with other published studies.
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