BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine

, 12:148

First online:

Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.

Effectiveness guidance document (EGD) for acupuncture research - a consensus document for conducting trials

  • Claudia M WittAffiliated withInstitute for Social Medicine, Epidemiology and Health Economics, Charité University Medical CenterCenter for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine Email author 
  • , Mikel AickinAffiliated withDepartment of Family and Community Medicine, University of Arizona
  • , Trini BacaAffiliated withPatient stakeholder
  • , Dan CherkinAffiliated withGroup Health Center for Health Studies
  • , Mary N HaanAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California
  • , Richard HammerschlagAffiliated withResearch Department, Oregon College of Oriental Medicine
  • , Jason Jishun HaoAffiliated withInternational Academy of Scalp Acupuncture, Southwest Acupuncture College
  • , George A KaplanAffiliated withCenter for Social Epidemiology and Population Health, University of Michigan
  • , Lixing LaoAffiliated withCenter for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine
    • , Terri McKayAffiliated withPatient stakeholder
    • , Beverly PierceAffiliated withThe Institute for Integrative Health, Community programs
    • , David RileyAffiliated withIntegrative Medicine, University of New Mexico Medical School
    • , Cheryl RitenbaughAffiliated withDepartment of Family and Community Medicine, University of Arizona
    • , Kevin ThorpeAffiliated withDalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
    • , Sean TunisAffiliated withCenter for Medical Technology Policy
    • , Jed WeissbergAffiliated withKaiser Foundation Health Plan and Hospitals, Hospitals, Quality and Care Delivery Excellence
    • , Brian M BermanAffiliated withCenter for Integrative Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine
    • , Collaborators



There is a need for more Comparative Effectiveness Research (CER) to strengthen the evidence base for clinical and policy decision-making. Effectiveness Guidance Documents (EGD) are targeted to clinical researchers. The aim of this EGD is to provide specific recommendations for the design of prospective acupuncture studies to support optimal use of resources for generating evidence that will inform stakeholder decision-making.


Document development based on multiple systematic consensus procedures (written Delphi rounds, interactive consensus workshop, international expert review). To balance aspects of internal and external validity, multiple stakeholders including patients, clinicians and payers were involved.


Recommendations focused mainly on randomized studies and were developed for the following areas: overall research strategy, treatment protocol, expertise and setting, outcomes, study design and statistical analyses, economic evaluation, and publication.


The present EGD, based on an international consensus developed with multiple stakeholder involvement, provides the first systematic methodological guidance for future CER on acupuncture.


Comparative effectiveness research Effectiveness guidance document Acupuncture