September 17, 1973

Double-Blind Studies of Acupuncture

Author Affiliations

Columbia-Presbyterian Medical Center New York

JAMA. 1973;225(12):1532. doi:10.1001/jama.1973.03220400058020

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To the Editor.—  Chein and Shapiro (224:1533, 1973) accept with reservations my objection (223:922, 1973) that double-blind studies of acupuncture are not feasible. (The reason is that correct placement of acupuncture needles requires cooperation of the patient in reporting paresthesias, a sensation of soreness, or mild discomfort, and, hence, renders useless efforts to deceive him with placebo needles deliberately inserted elsewhere.) They agree that this may be so with manually manipulated needles but claim that electric acupuncture stimulators can mimic the symptoms described, thereby validating the double-blind approach with placebo stimulation at sites other than acupuncture points.In support of their claim, Chein and Shapiro offer two references, both eye-witness reports by physician visitors to the People's Republic of China. However, the first citation by Dimond (218:1558, 1971) states "We asked how the anesthetist knew if he had placed the needles at the right point and depth. He said [and this