Peter J. White, PhD, BSc; George Lewith, DM
Potential Financial Conflicts of Interest: None disclosed.
White PJ, Lewith G. Acupuncture for Chronic Mechanical Neck Pain. Ann Intern Med. 2005;142:873-874. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-142-10-200505170-00022
Download citation file:
Published: Ann Intern Med. 2005;142(10):873-874.
We would like to reply both to Dr. Ernst's letter and to the editorial by Deyo that accompanied our manuscript (2).
We agree, as we pointed out in our paper, that the provision of acupuncture by only 1 practitioner was a weakness of our study and might have implications for generalizability. However, both Dr. Ernst and Dr. Deyo make the same error in interpreting our results and conclusions, that of confusing effectiveness and efficacy. We believe that this is an important distinction.
From our results, it can be clearly seen that acupuncture did indeed have a large effect. It is an effective treatment. Patients, on average, experienced in the region of a 60% reduction in pain from baseline scores in both treatment groups. A clinical improvement of this magnitude is significant and certainly shows a large “effect,” which, if this were a drug trial, would probably be a much-sought-after improvement. Such an improvement would also imply that the treatment protocol was not only sound but was delivered competently, credibly, and with conviction in both the acupuncture and control groups. Indeed, that the acupuncturist was able to elicit similar responses to acupuncture from a placebo treatment would tend to suggest that, contrary to Dr. Ernst's comments, he or she was probably quite skilled. The acupuncture treatment protocol used in our study would be very similar to that found in many physical therapy departments throughout the United Kingdom and is therefore generalizable within that context.
to gain full access to the content and tools.
Learn more about subscription options.
Register Now for a free account.
Copyright © 2016 American College of Physicians. All Rights Reserved.
Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
Conditions of Use
This PDF is available to Subscribers Only