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Editor's Correspondence
April 22, 2013

Complexity of Sham Acupuncture

Author Affiliations

Author Affiliations: Departments of Rehabilitation Medicine (Drs Huang and Kutner) and Neurology, Psychiatry/Behavioral Sciences (Dr Bliwise), Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia; and Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation/Extended Care, Atlanta VA Medical Center, Decatur, Georgia (Dr Huang).

JAMA Intern Med. 2013;173(8):713. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2013.3782

While we are convinced that real acupuncture is superior to both sham and no-acupuncture control for various chronic pain conditions, as carefully reviewed in 29 randomized controlled trials (RCTs) (17 922 patients) by Vickers et al,1 the authors of that article also acknowledge that acupuncture, both real and sham, is likely to be associated with additional potent placebo and context effects, contributing to the total effects of acupuncture experienced by patients in routine practice.