The bottom line?
The authors concluded, “Acupuncture plus self-care can contribute to a clinically relevant reduction in hot flashes and increased health-related quality of life in postmenopausal women.”
The researchers have conducted a large study, and a reduction in hot flash frequency from 6 to 2 per day should be meaningful for most women, even if the difference in intensity is small.
However, Prof. Ernst has warned against using a study design that randomly assigns patients to either usual care (A) + the experimental treatment (B) or to usual care (A) alone — A + B vs A — because is stacks the deck against the possibility of a negative result.
The results become more problematic considering that sham-controlled studies of acupuncture don’t support this option to manage menopausal hot flushes.
John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at www.Vicus.com, a complementary and alternative medicine website.