Background: This systematic review evaluated the effects of ear acupuncture, ear acupressure and auriculotherapy for cigarette smoking cessation (SC) at end-of-treatment (EoT), three, six and 12 months follow-up.
Methods: Searches of six English and Chinese databases located 25 randomized controlled trials (3735 participants). Methodological quality was assessed using Cochrane Risk of Bias. Meta-analyses were conducted in two pools: 1. SC-specific ear acupuncture/acupressure or auriculotherapy (EAP/R) vs. non-specific/inactive control; and 2. SC-specific EAP/R vs. other SC-specific treatment. Sensitivity analyses were conducted based on the validity of interventions as SC-specific treatments or non-specific/inactive interventions; and the use of biochemical SC confirmation.
Results: Pool 1: the 12 valid SC-specific EAP/R interventions were superior to inactive EAP/R controls at EoT (RR=1.77 [1.39, 2.25]), three months follow-up (RR=1.54 [1.14, 2.08]), and six months follow-up (RR=2.01, [1.23, 3.28]) but data were insufficient at 12 months. In Pool 2: there was no superiority or inferiority for EAP/R at EoT or at 3 and 6 month follow-ups compared to SC-specific behavioural therapy or SC-specific body acupuncture.
Conclusions: Pool 1 data appeared most consistent for studies of ear acupressure (EAPR) vs. non-specific EAPR controls, with confirmed SC rates at 3 months post-treatment of 20.0% for test groups vs. 7.5% for controls. In Pool 2 the EAP/R interventions appeared neither inferior nor superior to the behavioural interventions at 3 and 6 month follow-ups. However, meta-analysis results derived from relatively small-sized trials with no biochemical validation of SC in Pool 2. Larger, well-controlled studies using biochemical confirmation of SC are needed.
Keywords: Cigarette; Ear acupressure; Ear acupuncture; Smoking; Systematic review; Tobacco.
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