Author Affiliations: Department of Family Medicine, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium.
Suzuki et al1 claim that their placebo-controlled trial of acupuncture clearly demonstrates that this is a useful adjunctive therapy in reducing dyspnea on exertion in patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They used a design in which a placebo acupuncture group (PAG) received treatment with a Park sham device “with a guide tube mounted on a base adherent to the skin.”1(p879-880) The authors further describe that “[t]he tips of the placebo needles used for the placebo acupuncture group . . . were blunt and appeared to be penetrating the skin but actually telescoped back into place.”1(p880) With no blinding of the practitioner, the authors assessed subjects' blindness after the study, letting subjects choose between “real acupuncture,” “placebo acupuncture,” and “don't know.” Of the real acupuncture group (RAG), 25 of 30 subjects reported “don't know.” Of the PAG, 26 of 32 subjects did so.
Jean-Luc Mommaerts, Jan Vandevoorde, Dirk Devroey. Acupuncture for Dyspnea on Exertion in Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: No Blindness. Arch Intern Med. 2012;172(22):1772–1773. doi:10.1001/2013.jamainternmed.453