Confessions of a Quackbuster

This blog deals with healthcare consumer protection, and is therefore about quackery, healthfraud, chiropractic, and other forms of so-Called "Alternative" Medicine (sCAM).

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Do physicians overestimate effects of acupuncture treatment?

Schmerz. 2005; [Epub ahead of print]
[Do physicians overestimate effects of acupuncture treatment?]
[Article in German]

Lungenhausen M, Endres HG, Kukuk P, Schaub C, Maier C, Zenz M.

Abteilung fur Schmerztherapie, Klinik fur Anasthesiologie, Intensiv- und Schmerztherapie der Berufsgenossenschaftlichen Kliniken Bergmannsheil Bochum, .

Physicians' ratings about their patients' pain prove to be invalid compared to patients' ratings. This is especially true if pain rating acts as an indicator for therapy outcome. The aim of this study was to compare physicians' and patients' ratings of pain relief following acupuncture and to identify correlations between patient characteristics and potential miscalibrations.

In a cross-sectional study 291 pain patients with gonarthrosis or chronic low back pain and their attending physicians were asked to give their rating of patients' pain relief following acupuncture. Patients were interviewed by telephone, and doctors responded to questionnaires.

The proportion of false-positive physicians' ratings was 81% referring to patients without self-reported benefit from acupuncture. Just every fifth patient without pain relief was correctly classified by his physician. There was no correlation between patients' characteristics and false-positive ratings of physicians.


Evaluation of treatment in daily medical routine should be primarily based on information provided by patients.