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Editor's Correspondence
March 26, 2001

A Randomized Controlled Trial of Auricular Acupuncture for Cocaine Dependence: Treatments vs Outcomes

Arch Intern Med. 2001;161(6):894-895. doi:

The concluding paragraph of the study "A Randomized Controlled Trial of Auricular Acupuncture for Cocaine Dependence" states that its findings "support the use of acupuncture for the treatment of cocaine addiction."1 However, a more straightforward analysis of the study's outcome data casts considerable doubt on this conclusion.

The data in question were subject to a complex analytical procedure that does not take into account that subjects who did not complete the treatment program represent failures of the treatment to which they were assigned. A more straightforward analysis taking failure to complete the program into account would define 2 treatment outcomes: successful (remained in the program to completion and submitted 3 cocaine-free urine samples during the final week) and unsuccessful (withdrew from the program prior to completion or failed to submit 3 cocaine-free urine samples during the final week).

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