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Comments, Opinions, and Brief Case Reports
January 12, 2004

Prospective Investigation of Adverse Effects of Acupuncture in 97 733 Patients

Arch Intern Med. 2004;164(1):104-105. doi:10.1001/archinte.164.1.104

Acupuncture is practiced by about 40 000 physicians in Germany and has been reimbursed by statutory sickness funds (social health insurance companies) in the past on an informal basis. Since October 2000, acupuncture treatment can only be reimbursed for a limited number of conditions within the framework of so-called trial phases ("Modellvorhaben"). During these trial phases randomized trials are performed in a limited number of patients to evaluate effectiveness. However, reimbursement of acupuncture is possible on a nationwide scale within the trial phase if (1) the treatment is provided by a licensed physician trained in acupuncture and (2) the physician reports data on patient characteristics, treatment, outcome, and adverse effects on a standardized form. We report herein the preliminary results on adverse effects from the trial phase of a group of statutory sickness funds (Ersatzkassen) covering roughly a quarter of the German population (about 20 million persons).