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A meta-analysis of acupuncture techniques for smoking cessation

White AR, Resch KL, Ernst E . Tob Control. 1999;8(4):393-7

OBJECTIVE: To determine the effectiveness of acupuncture for smoking cessation and to examine whether any individual aspect of trials is associated with an effect. DATA SOURCES: All randomised controlled trials of acupuncture for smoking cessation that were listed in computerised databases or reference lists of relevant articles. STUDY SELECTION: All randomised single-blind studies that compared acupuncture with sham acupuncture. DATA EXTRACTION: Methodological data were extracted for quality assessment. Outcome data were extracted for rates of total smoking cessation at three intervals: early after treatment and after six and 12 months follow up. DATA SYNTHESIS: Results were expressed as odds ratios of success over failure in intervention over control groups. The combined odds ratio for all studies was calculated. Repeated meta-analyses were subsequently performed on subsets of studies combined according to defined characteristics: acupuncture technique, number of attendances, country of origin, status of journal, and control procedure. The overall quality of studies was poor. The combined odds ratio for smoking cessation calculated for the earliest results after the end of treatment was 1.20 (95% confidence intervals (95% CIs) = 0.98 to 1.48). The combined odds ratio for smoking cessation after six months was 1.29 (95% CI = 0.82 to 2.01), and after 12 months was 1.03 (95% CI = 0.73 to 1.46). There were no significant effects of relevance among subsets of studies grouped according to defined characteristics. CONCLUSIONS: Acupuncture was not superior to sham acupuncture for smoking cessation; no particular aspect of acupuncture technique was associated with a positive effect. The conclusions are limited by methodological inadequacies of studies and by the absence of testable hypotheses; design of future trials should avoid these deficiencies.