Why we should change the course of acupuncture research

Double-blinded placebo-controlled studies have been the gold standard of modern research. Their use for pharmaceutical studies is certain, but their utility for non-pharmaceutical research is questionable. Recently, multiple studies have examined specifically the use of acupuncture as adjunctive treatment to in-vitro fertilisation (IVF). The results are overall positive, but they have been questioned due to methodological issues such as lack of placebo controls. We discuss barriers to studying acupuncture, using IVF acupuncture research as an example, and we challenge the approach of mimicking pharmaceutical research for acupuncture studies. We hope this article will contribute not only to future acupuncture research, but to other research where techniques, rather than pharmaceuticals, are being studied, and will begin a productive dialogue that will cross over many fields.

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